Never Ending Cash Cow

This is a little old, but I just stumbled upon it (huge thanks to my buddy Todd–who is way smarter than I am). It covers a recently-published Common English Bible.

Common English Bible from Common English Bible on Vimeo.

I’m 98% sure the people in this video are paid actors. It’s just too perfect. And they paint a drab and untrue picture of how Bibles are translated in English.

For those of you who aren’t in the Bible world, or just think there is one translation of the Bible in English (or a few), think again. This list from Wikipedia isn’t even complete and it contains dozens of English translations (on my phone alone I have access to twenty versions in English). Shoot. Even my seminary has its own translation.

Why? Is it really to get the Scriptures into everyone’s hands? I’d like to think yes, but I’m more confident the answer is no. The answer is really this: money (and a little bit of “I want to help Christians study the Bible”). Why? Because there is money in every publishing house having their own translation. That way they don’t have to pay royalties any other publishing house for a translation.

For example: Zondervan Publishers owns the New International Version of the Bible (the most popular). Publishing House A wants to get a hip study Bible going but they don’t have their own translation so they have to base it off the NIV. Publishing House A then pays Zondervan good money to use the NIV. Then someone in a board room goes “Hey, wait a minute! Why don’t we make our own translation so that we don’t have to pay for anyone else’s?!?!?!” Now you have the new, updated, and easier-to-read version from Publishing House A. This makes Publishing House B jealous so they have to make their own.

So what’s the outcome? Zondervan owns the NIV (a staple translation of pew Bibles everywhere), Holman gets the Holman Christian Standard Bible (which has a Baptist flavor), Crossway gets the ESV (more to come on that one), Navpress jumps in with The Message, Tyndale Publishers gets the New Living, and on and on.

To make it even cooler you get some hip pastors to make some comments about your translation and then you’ve got a following. It doesn’t seem like there is a guy under 30 who doesn’t walk around with an ESV (I read from it just about every day)–this blog pokes a little fun at that very thing.

Your pastor probably uses whatever translation he is most familiar with (which means it’s the one he heard growing up). Making a change later in life is hard (who likes to hear “God says” instead of the old faithful “Thus saith”?). At our church we have three main teachers and you’ll either hear the New American Standard, ESV, or NIV. Funny thing is that NASB pastor is about 15 years older than NIV pastor, who is about 15 years older than ESV pastor. In 15 years there will be something else.

And someone else will be rich.

My seminary professor saith this: “The best translation of the Bible is the one you live.”