Feb 18, 2004

Three Bible translations

I now have three versions of the Bible in Spanish. I didn't plan to acquire more than one, but it just worked out this way.

Before leaving the United States, I bought a copy of Zondervan Publishing's Nueva Version Internacional (New International Version). But when I arrived here I found this version is not widely used in Venezuela. So then I bought a copy of "Dios Habla Hoy" (God Talks Today), the Spanish Bible distributed by the United Bible Societies (of which the American Bible Society is part). This seems to be the most commonly used contemporary translation used here.
Then I signed up for a course on the Gospel according to St. Matthew (in Spanish) which specifically requires the Reina-Valera Bible, 1960 edition.

The Reina-Valera Bible is more or less the equivalent of the King James Bible in the Spanish-speaking world. It is primarily the work of Casiodoro de Reina and Cipriano de Valera, two monks from Seville, Spain, who fled their native country one or two steps ahead of the Spanish Inquisition in 1557. They had become convinced of the truth of the teachings of the northern European Reformers.

Reina published a Spanish translation of the Bible in 1569. Due to some deficiencies in his work, the translation was edited and revised by Valera with the final product published in 1602.
Like the King James Bible, the Reina-Valera Bible contains words and expressions rarely used today. But, again like the King James Bible, there are those who consider it the all-time, best-ever version of the Bible into the vernacular. And not just any old edition, either. The 1960 edition is considered preferable by some to the subsequent 1995 and 1997 editions, which are also available here.

As confusing as this sounds, I actually am enjoying the Matthew course. It interprets the Gospel in ways that are very specific to Latin America. For example, the introductory lesson compares two of the 12 apostles, Matthew the tax collector and Simon the Zealot. These two were from opposite ends of the political spectrum in their day. Matthew belonged to a class of people who were considered traitors to their own nation for collaborating with the hated Roman Empire. Simon the Zealot, or in Spanish, "el cananista," belonged to a group that was plotting to overthrow the Empire through violent revolution.

Two irreconcilable lifestyles: One passively accepting the present distribution of wealth and power, no matter how unjust, the other seeking to impose its notion of justice no matter what the cost in human life. But with the advent of "the kingdom of heaven," Christ's spiritual kingdom, Matthew was able to put aside his love of money and comfort, and Simon was able to forsake violence, and both became apostles.

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