New Revised Standard Version

(with reference to RSV)


FD Scale (formal or dynamic): 2
I'll give it a 2 because it follows the dynamic practice of using "brothers and sisters" for "brothers" when a biblical author put brothers but really meant both. In this sense the RSV was a little more formal than the NRSV (I would give the RSV a 1 on this one), except insofar that anthropos really meant "person" rather than "man" (see my evaluation of the TNIV).

I probably would still give the NRSV a tie to the English Standard Version in terms of the best formal equivalence translation (maybe I'll change my mind one way or another when I dig into the ESV in more detail).

OC Scale (original text or "catholic" text of the church): 1
I would say that the NRSV is admirable in its incorporation of insights from the Dead Sea Scrolls. In all the instances where I mentioned a failure on the part of the NIV/TNIV tradition, the NRSV incorporates the insights into the text rather than the footnotes.

By the way, I laugh a little when I see the TNIV putting these things in the footnotes. For over a hundred years from the 1700's to 1800's textual scholars printed the "textus receptus" or what I'm calling the "catholic" text as the main text, even though many of them knew full well that it wasn't as original. They printed variations from the newly discovered and far more ancient manuscripts in the footnotes. It wasn't until Westcott and Hort that the textus receptus was placed in the footnotes in deference to the older manuscripts that were being discovered.

Now the TNIV and NIV are doing the same thing. OT scholars who surely know that the Dead Sea text is better in some of these instances only put its readings in the footnotes… to appease their market? And of course, it is not entirely clear that we should aim at the original text anyway. For example, the Septuagint text was arguably the OT of the apostles--should we follow its text of the OT, like the Greek Orthodox Church does?

Here's Deuteronomy 32:8-9, as in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Septuagint, and now the NRSV:

"When the Most High apportioned the nations, when he divided humankind, he fixed the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the gods, the LORD's own portion was his people, Jacob his allotted share."

Incorporation of Dead Sea stuff gives it a 1 point shift from the RSV, that I might give a 2 for since it did not incorporate these insights.

Drift (1)
I would say that the NRSV doesn't drift much at all, at least for our current state of understanding. Here are a few of its "straight-up" translations:

Genesis1:1-2: "In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters."

Philippians 2:6: "who, though he was in the form of God..."

Colossians 1:15: "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation..."

1 Corinthians 7:1: "It is well for a man not to touch a woman..."

7:27: "Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife."

Psalm 8:4-5: "what are human beings that you are mindful of them... Yet you have made them a little lower than God..."

The RSV was much the same in its lack of drift. Of course the RSV got a lot of flack in the 50's when it came out for translating Isaiah 7:14 with "young woman" instead of "virgin." But it was simply giving the original meaning of the verse. Matthew's use of this passage followed the Septuagint, which has a word that distinctly meant "virgin." So I think I would give a 1 to the RSV as well. I might note that neither ventures to change anything in the light of the "faithfulness of Christ" debate over Romans 3:21 and Galatians 2:16--no doubt this will have to wait until Metzger is no longer on the committee :)

Youth Scale (readability): 2
I'll give the NRSV the same rating here I gave the TNIV for the same reasons. The RSV was less readable in more than one way (3).

I find no fault in the NRSV, although its use of "brothers and sisters" for "brothers" means that I can't "cheat" as well off of it as I could the RSV. When I didn't feel like translating from the Greek or Hebrew, the RSV was my main port of call. With the NRSV, which I don't fault for it, I cannot be sure that a singular hasn't been changed to a plural to make it inclusive or that gender factors haven't altered the original some. But I suppose I would do the same if I were one of their translators.