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In Discordance with the Scriptures: American Protestant Battles Over Translating the Bible (Religion in America) [Paperback]

By Peter J. Thuesen (Author)
Our Price $ 38.40  
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Item Number 160127  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   256
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.2" Width: 6.12" Height: 0.74"
Weight:   0.87 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 23, 2002
Publisher   Oxford University Press
ISBN  019515228X  
EAN  9780195152289  

Availability  129 units.
Availability accurate as of Dec 12, 2017 10:48.
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Item Description...
The story of the translation of the Bible in America begins with the King James Version. In fact, many Americans thought of the KJV as the foundational text of the Republic, rather than a cultural inheritance from Anglican Britain. In the nineteenth century, however, as new editions of the Greek New Testament appeared, scholars increasingly recognized significant errors and inconsistencies in the KJV. This soon 1ed to the Bible revision movement, whose goal was the uniting of all English-speaking Protestants behind one new, improved version of the Bible. Ironically, as Peter Thuesen shows in this fascinating history, the revision movement in fact resulted in a vast proliferation of English scripture editions and an enduring polarization of American Christians over versions of Holy Writ. The recurrent controversies over Bible translations, he argues, tell us less about the linguistic issues dividing conservatives and liberals than about the theological assumptions they have long held in common.

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More About Peter J. Thuesen

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Peter J. Thuesen is Associate Professor of religious studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).

Peter Johannes Thuesen was born in 1971.

Peter Johannes Thuesen has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Religion in America

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
RSV - NIV American Bible Translation Battle Review!  Jan 4, 2004
The subtitle is American Protestant Battles Over Translating the Bible, but the heart of the book is really the RSV (Revised Standard Version) vs. NIV (New International Version) controversy. The curtain of public veneer is pulled back on the ideological translation wars, to reveal a compelling tale rife with politics, posturing, and power struggles.

The introduction gets off on the wrong foot, with some esoteric blather about epistemological hermeneutics (or some such sespequedalian verbiage) and iconoclastic biblicism, that seemed pointless to me, other than as filler. I suggest you skip the introduction and get right into the book itself. Early on, the author takes some unwarranted stabs at William Tyndale, that only aggravated the situation.

But once you get into the controversies surrounding the Revised Standard Version translation, the author hits his stride, and the fascinating story behind this influential translation begins to unfold. Then the fundamentalist-reactionary NIV is introduced, and the plot thickens palpably. Great nuts-and-bolts, blood-and-guts reading. I found myself almost unable to put the book down at this point, since this subject fascinates me, and it seems very little is written on the subject. This battlefield history is obviously the author's strong suit, and he plays it well.

He comes across with a hard-boiled cynicism, that at times can be a little grating, and at other times, gives his work an edge. When he philosophizes about the implications of various ideologies, he seems on less solid ground. His observations are trenchant without being incisive. Ultimately, the author's thesis was unclear in my mind. Should Bible translators NOT strive to get closer to a perfect ideal of the "inspired original?" What role should religious bias play in the translation process?

But no matter. Despite that, and despite an ending that fizzles rather abruptly, the strength of the story survives its weaknesses, and what emerges is a fascinating, well-researched and well-documented battle history of Christendom's American Bible Translation Civil War of the mid-century. I wish such a treatise was available for every translation out there!

Thorough History of Protestant English Bible.  Jun 7, 2001
Thorough History of Protestant Bible in English in the United States. "In Discordance with the Scriptures" by Peter J. Thuesen, sub-titled "American Protestant Battles Over Translating The Bible". Oxford University Press, 1999.

This book presents a history of the revisions of the English translations of the Bible, Old and New Testaments. The book has, however, another central theme: the dilemma that Protestants face when they proclaim, "Sola Scriptura", or "scripture alone", while denying the necessity of a church body to pass on the acceptability of each revision. As a papist, I rely on the Pope to say that one version or another can be printed: "imprimatur". "In Discordance with the Scriptures", points out that Protestants have no such authority. This book records the arguments of Protestants in the United States over the authority that would accept (or reject) each new English translation. The old King James Version, "...deeply internalized by many Americans, and tacitly assumed to be the very Word of God, began to lose its unchallenged cultural hegemony". Page 42. It has always been a wonder to me that Protestants, who effectively demand the separation of church and state, tolerate a Bible with a King's name on it: a bible authorized by an alien king (James was a Scot, you know).

The author, Dr. Peter J. Thuesen, spends a good portion of the first two chapters on the influence that the Tyndale Bible had on the foundation of the translations of the Hebrew and Greek versions into English. Tyndale's work predates the King James Version (as does the Catholic English Bible, the Douay-Rheims version). Dr. Thuesen is ecumenical enough to mention the encyclical of Pope Pius XII, "Divino Afflante Spiritu" (Page 80), which encouraged Catholic scholarship in biblical matters in the late 1950s.

The book records the difficulties that different Protestant sects or denominations had with the translations that affected theological matters. For example, Isaiah 7:14, was given as child born to at "virgin" as a child born to a "young woman". Dr. Thuesen reaches to John Calvin and into the New Testament accounts of the Virgin Birth (Matthew 1:23) to defend the propriety of the literally correct translation of Isaiah as "young woman". The author further records that it is lamentable that in today's age a "young woman" is not synonymous with a "virgin".

Interestingly enough, throughout the book, the author considers the King James Version to be somewhat lacking in accuracy, and that the new revisions, such as the Revised Standard Version, (RSV), are better translations, clarifying some poorer renditions. He does not cover, however, the Christmas story from Luke, which I remember, as a young boy, noting that that Catholic version was "Peace on earth to men of good will", while the English King James version stated, "Peace on earth, good will to men". Big difference! Today, we have, "..Peace on earth to those on whom His favor rests". This brings up style. I wish that Dr. Thuesen had addressed style variations more completely. For example, again using Luke's account of Christmas, "A decree went forth from Caesar Augustus that the whole world was to be censored." is probably not acceptable in this politically correct, democratic world where emperors and dictators have been replaced by the democracy of the people. I would have like to see what Dr. Thuesen could have done with the changes in bible translations as the political scene in the world has changed.

As a practicing Christian (Roman Catholic, but still a Christian), I wanted the book to cover more on the ecumenically acceptable translations of the Bible. The book's last chapter, "Epilogue" ended too soon for me, and I would recommend that future editions expand to consider Protestant/Catholic efforts on translations. Further, there is a need for a history or consideration of translations into other common languages. For example, a Seventh Day Adventist, who knocked on my door, became angry when I showed him that Luther's translation called "Exodus", "The First Book of Moses". In all, this book, by Peter J. Thuesen, is well written by a literate man, who attempts to present all sides fairly.

The Babel of Versions  Apr 10, 2000
When something as sacred as the Holy Scriptures gets monkeyed with and becomes a political football, emotions are bound to be stirred. Such was the case when modern translations of the English Bible were issued in 1881 and 1952. Thuesen examines in a brief overview the controversies surrounding these and other modern Bible translations, as well as giving background on English Bible translations beginning with the work of William Tyndale in 1526. It was the Reformation which brought about the rediscovery of the Bible as a rule of faith and life. The Scholastics of the Middle Ages were caught up in an Augustinian view of Scripture which confined its precepts to a shadowy realm of symbolism and allegory. The Enlightenment brought about a desire to examine the Scriptures in their historical-critical context, which ultimately gave rise to destructive higher criticism and what Thuesen calls "lower criticism", which was the response of Bible-believers who nonetheless sought to understand the meanings and milieus of the Biblcal authors. By this time the King James Version of 1611 had become normative in the minds of churchgoers, and the idea of revising it appeared as tampering, even though two updated versions of the King James had been made in the eighteenth century. During the intervening time, however, two manuscripts dating from the fourth century A.D., Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus, had been discovered (in the Sinai and in the Vatican respectively), both of which were older than the manuscripts used by Erasmus in compiling his Textus Receptus in the sixteenth century (which had been utilized by the King James translators). By 1870 scholars in Britain and America felt that a new Bible translation was needed in the light of this new manuscript evidence. In the idealistic spirit of the time, it was also felt that a modern language Bible translation assembled by an ecumenical group of Protestant scholars would bridge the gaps between denominations. So the Revised Version was born, making its appearance in final form in 1881, under the watchful eye of committee chairman, theologian, and historian Philip Schaff. The American Standard Version of 1901 created less of a sensation, but the discovery of the Chester Beatty papyri--dating from the second century--in 1931 brought about a groundswell of interest in a new translation, which ultimately resulted in the Revised Standard Version, appearing in 1952. No Bible translation in history has been more thoroughly excoriated than the RSV, which was produced by a committee of scholars gleaned mostly from "liberal" colleges and seminaries under the aegis of the National Council of Churches. A handful of texts which the translators claimed to be clarifying by their translations appeared to many evangelicals and fundamentalists to be rendered in such a way as to cast shadows on cardinal Biblical doctrines. The primary example was that of Isaiah 7:14, in which the word rendered as "virgin" in the King James Version was translated as "young woman" in the RSV. This was seized upon by many as an underhanded attack on the doctrine of the Virgin Birth of Christ. Prominent men in the evangelical world went on the offensive against the "liberal Bible." In what must be one of the greatest oxymoronic statements in all of history, Baptist pastor Martin Luther Hux of Rocky Mount, North Carolina said of the RSV, "This has been the dream of modernists for centuries." Even Westminster Seminary's Cornelius Van Til got involved, saying, "Even...supposedly trustworthy neo-orthodox theologians were promiscuously drawing upon critical Kantian philosophy to ravish historic Christianity. Theological promiscuity was for fundamentalists perhaps the ultimate sign of an increasingly permissive society in which a 'young woman' and a 'virgin' were not always one in [sic] the same." The RSV translation committee answered every challenge with protests of loyalty to the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith and disavowals of any desire to debunk the Virgin Birth or any other Biblical dogma. Eventually the controversy died down, but not before the production of the New International Version--a modern translation produced by scholars who all signed a statement testifying to their belief in the plenary inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. What with the Living Bible, Good News for Modern Man, and the Readers' Digest Bible, the RSV looks relatively tame today. Thuesen does little to mask his sympathy for the RSV translators. Nonetheless, this is an enthralling story which will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout.

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