Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 26:2 (Jun 1983)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

The English Bible from KJV to NIV: A History and Evaluation. By Jack P. Lewis. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981, 408 pp., $16.95.

Lewis sets about to address himself to the widely asked question, “Which translation of the Bible is best?” He does not in fact give an explicit answer to that question. Rather the author attempts to “guide the reader into an appreciation of what the various translating groups are trying to do while at the same time cautioning about items that seem defects in their work.”

The book begins with brief chapters on the Bible in history and early English translations (which antedate the KJV). This forms the basis for his working premise: The translation of the Bible into English is an ongoing process that began long before the KJV—a process of which the KJV is a part, but that is still continuing.

An important chapter in this respect is “Doctrinal Problems in the King James Version.” Lewis critically evaluates the misconception that some have—viz., that the KJV is the Bible against which all translations are to be measured.

The discussion of the textual question is very brief (less than three pages) and so is insufficient to answer all the charges of the defenders of the Textus Receptus. However, it summarizes the evidence well with numerous textual examples. There is a spirited six-page defense of the provocative description of problems with the KJV as “doctrinal” based on the assertion that “any failure to present the ‘Word of God’ accurately, completely and clearly in a translation is a doctrinal problem” (p. 61). The simple conclusion is that “it is now possible to have a more accurate and more readable translation than the King James Version” (p. 68).

Succeeding chapters evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the major translations and revisions. The criteria used include which text is chosen, the fidelity with which the text is rendered and the quality of the English style into which it is translated. In addition, matters such as translational theory, the use of notes and annotations, format, vocabulary innovations, changing editions, and consistency in renderings are dealt with in considerable detail.

The outstanding features of this book are twofold. First, every chapter is massively documented with literally hundreds of examples of words, phrases or verses, showing a remarkable degree of thoroughness and attention to detail.

Second, the evaluations of each version are made using very judicious and charitable comments. It is to Lewis’ credit and a mark of his scholarship that he displays so little prejudice and parochialism. This reviewer was unaware until a...

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