Thursday, September 22, 2011

Jesus Calling Devotional Bible, NKJV By Sarah Young, General Editor

Jesus Calling Devotional Bible, NKJV- Enjoying Peace in His Presence By Sarah Young, General Editor- is another new themed bible published by Thomas Nelson Publishers. This themed bible is a nice idea. The padded cover art is impressive.  Devotions from the book "Jesus Calling" are dispersed within.  The main thing that would have made this bible better is if it was offered in a more user friendly version such as the NCV which is also published by Thomas Nelson.  Sarah Young's writings and devotions are very easy to read and understand in stark contrast to the more literal NKJV.  Therefore I believe the easier to read NCV version would have been a better translation to pair up with Young's devotional style. I hold the same opinion for the Max Lucado themed bible which I feel should have been offered in the NCV version as well.  In fact, I wrote a comment about this (on the booksneeze fb web site) and the feed back I received was that an abreviated version of the bible- simply a series of selected readings- not nearly the entire bible, was available as a devotional in the NCV version.  But, why not have the NCV version available as an option for their themed bibles?  In the Start Bible for New Believers I really feel it was a disservice not to offer that bible in NCV version either.  I think the end result is that all these nice, attractive looking themed bibles will wind up taking bookspace on people shelves with only the devotionals being read but not the actual bible text.  I Simply do not understand why Thomas Nelson publishers avoids publishing its themed bibles in the NCV version which they publish as well. 

  As a blogger I have had the opportunity to review a number of bibles and bible translations. As a believer I read the bible because it is the word of God. A frequently used translation by Thomas Nelson publishers, the publisher I blog for, uses frequently for their themed bibles the NKJV- New King James Version. The NKJV as well as other more literal translations- such as the KJV, NASB, NRSV and ESV tend to be overly literal to the point of being difficult to understand. This is especially evident in the Psalms, and other old testament books as well as the letters in the New Testament. For example, a bible marketed for new belivers titled the "New Believers Bible- Start" ironically, is available in only the literal NKJV, rather than a more user friendly version such as the NCV. The NCV which also is available by the same publisher but under- marketed, would be more appropriate for a new believer or new bible reader. Furthermore, a Max Lucado themed devotional bible is also available in NKJV only and not the more modern yet reliable NCV- New Century Version. For those readers who enjoy Lucado's simple to understand books, the NKJV does a disservice- and a more user friendly version for this themed bible would be more appropriate.

A number of emerging Christian, and rigid individual - "leaders claim that the ESV is the "Bible of the future'—ideal for public worship and private reading, appropriate for adults, youth and children. This puzzles me, since the ESV seems to me to be overly literal—full of archaisms, awkward language, obscure idioms, irregular word order, and a great deal of “Biblish.” Biblish is produced when the translator tries to reproduce the form of the Greek or Hebrew without due consideration for how people actually write or speak. The ESV, like other formal equivalent versions (RSV; NASB; NKJV; NRSV), is a good supplement to versions that use normal English, but is not suitable as a standard Bible for the church. This is because the ESV too often fails the test of 'standard English'"...... according to Bible translator and linguist Wayne Leman in a conference in 2008.

The more literal translations are accurate and trustworthy- great for theologens and scholars and seminary students- in contrast to a paraphrase such the Message which is far, far less literal -to the point of being comedic. As far as a translations for the rest of us- who aren't theologens- as well as new believers, I believe there are perhaps better, more easy to read choices available between in the mid point of the translation spectrum. Sometimes I feel pride is an issue, and that there are some individuals in Church and elsewhere who simply feel smarter and more intelligent when they carry around a NKJV, KJV or ESV. This is nothing more than biblical snobbery. There are many who feel the NIV, the HCSB/ CSB, NLV and other such translations are beneath them. I used to feel that way until I did my own bible studies comparing the texts of passages side by side and saw for myself that modern translations do not obscure or change the meaning. In contrast, the modern translations are enlightening. There is one exception- The Message bible is too paraphrased, intended for entertainment and not serious study. Its a unique paraphrase which is appropriate as a suppliment but it does not replace the bible.

As far as bible translations, there is a spectrum of the ease of reading of a particular translation ranging from beginner/ easy reading levels such as the message and more complex/ literal such as the King James version, and revised standard version. For example, the popular NIV- New International Version, is somewhere in the middle with regard to ease of reading level and undertsanding. The NKJV - New King James Version, in particular, is a bit more literal and is written in somewhat of a higher reading level. Nevertheless, this NKJV is an easy to understand version as well. For those new to the bible entirely, The Message and Living bible as well as NIV versions are easy to read and understand, and are very good options for those who seek to understand the meaning of the bible.

Difficult to read versions such as the Old King James - though very well written and poetic- in a Shakespearian sort of way, do a disservice to the modern or new bible reader. The antique language is difficult for many in this day to understand on their own and makes it prohibitive for many to understand the truths of the bible. Having known many readers of the KJV, who do not even understand the meaning of what they read- indicates that this is not the best translation for those who really seek to know God's word. What is the point of a bible after all if you can not even undertsand it? For those new to the bible or for those who have a difficult to read translation such as the King James Version, who wish to read the bible and actually understand it, I would suggest one of the bible versions with more modern/ contemporary language. While the NKJV is relatively easy to read, it may present a challange to the literacy level of many modern adults. What really seems ironic is when the NKJV, ESV or KJV is printed as a children's bible! When I see this, I can only wonder what child on his or her own can actually read and get anything from it. This is a great diservice to a child- when a child is presented with a bible in archaic English in a tiny text font. I feel that publishers and even parents need to take time to consider visually what a child or teenager will understand when being presented with the bible. There are a number of very good youth bibles and study bibles full of colorful graphics such as the NLB themed study bible, and magazine style bibles in the NCV version which are sure to appeal to younger readers and new bible readers. The NIV and HCSB also have a number study and student bibles too.

1 comment:

  1. This book was a gift to me at a time when I was going through several hardships and also looking for a church where I could worship and find fellowship with believers in Christ. This is the best devotional book I have ever read. I cannot start my day without it. I really feel as if Jesus were talking directly to me. Each daily devotion brings me such comfort, hope and peace. I anxiously look through my bible to read the scriptures at the bottom of the daily devotion. I have had this book for three years now and continue to read it every day. I have shared this book with several co-workers and they now have this book. I will be sending one as a Christmas present this year to a close friend who is going through cancer treatments. God Bless you Sarah Young for this life-changing book!