The Old Testament and Why Bible Translations Differ: My Religious Educator Article

RSCBYU’s Religious Studies Center publishes The Religious Educator, a little-known LDS journal that deserves wider recognition. The RSC publishes several other interesting things, and has made many of them available on-line, including many books (though you have to click on an individual book to see if it’s online. The older it is, the more likely.)

I think the two defining characteristics of Religious Educator are its intended audience (CES S&I faculty and anyone else who subscribes) and content (attempting an academic/devotional hybrid.) I suspect many readers would not expect anything serious from such a description, but it has some real gems and sometimes pushes boundaries in a good way (particularly considering the intended audience.) A sampling-

So, there really is some good stuff in Religious Educator, particularly if you’re a Gospel Doctrine teacher looking for material, suggestions or even articles to mail out or refer people to. There’s a Sunday School index (still D&C on the page) that lists relevant articles for each Gospel Doctrine lesson, and a similar index for RS/PH lessons.

The January 2014 issue prints an article I wrote, which started here at T&S, about why Bible translations differ, some challenging questions about the nature of scripture and translation (particularly when scripture challenges our expectation of holiness), some lengthy suggestions on personal study, and an evaluation of the relevance of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith Translation for deciding between textual differences. The personal study suggestions are more in-depth than in my post here. The RSC policy is to put up electronic editions about a year after paper publication, but I have permission to post it online. If you’d like a copy, download it here. Ben Spackman, “Why Bible Translations Differ: A Guide for the Perplexed” Religious Educator 15:1 (2014): 31-65.

My thanks to Chris who asked the question that got me writing on the topic, the many people who commented, offered suggestions, and the RSC for wanting to publish and distribute it.


11 comments for “The Old Testament and Why Bible Translations Differ: My Religious Educator Article

  1. Bro. Jones
    December 18, 2013 at 4:09 pm


  2. December 18, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    Excellent, thanks for posting your piece, Ben. The Religious Educator has been doing some really great stuff lately.

  3. Kevin Barney
    December 18, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    I agree the Religious Educator has some great stuff. I’ll take a look at your article; thanks for pointing us to it.

  4. Ben S.
    December 18, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    You’re cited by name in the text, Kevin.
    On a reread (I finished it several months ago), I’m pretty happy with it.

  5. Kevin Barney
    December 18, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    I just finished it. Very well done. This will be a useful piece for the beginning of our OT curriculum year starting in a couple of weeks.

  6. Chris
    December 18, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    Glad to be helpful! This was a great article and I’m happy to get such a thorough answer to my questions. Thanks again, Ben. I’m looking forward to checking out many of the other articles you recommend.

  7. Christian J
    December 19, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    Ben, I enjoyed the article, but felt most satisfied with your summaries of the BoM/JST issues relating to Bible translation. Although I’m not now nor likely ever will be your target audience, I’m glad to know that religious educators in the Church are receiving this instruction.

  8. Old Man
    December 20, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Thanks. I enjoyed your article.

  9. Julie M. Smith
    December 20, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    This is a great article and I am so glad it was published. Maybe this was just the version I had, but it looked like the footnote numbers for 17 and 87 were formatted oddly.

  10. Ben S.
    December 20, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    Yes, there appears to have been some formatting issues. A few paragraph breaks have disappeared, some of the endnotes are off by one. That may have been my fault, but I thought I checked them all quite carefully…

  11. Ben
    January 13, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    I received an email from RE, and what I posted was not the final version. These minor stylistic issues will be corrected in the print. If/when I get an updated ecopy, I’ll upload it instead.

    Thanks for catching those, Julie.

Comments are closed.