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Dutch Bible translation slammed as ‘too modern’

Expatica, Netherlands
Oct. 27, 2004 • Friday October 29, 2004

AMSTERDAM A new Dutch translation of the Bible to be published on Wednesday has attracted sharp criticism for being too modern and differing too much from the original Hebrew and Greek texts.

The New Bible Translation (De Nieuwe Bijbelvertaling) was to be unveiled in Rotterdam on Wednesday and launched in Antwerp for the Belgian market on Friday. Ten years in the making, the publication is intended to offer a standard translation for the entire Dutch-language region.

Well-known Dutch priests Huub Oosterhuis and Nico ter Linden claim the attempt to translate the bible into Dutch language has come at the expense of what the original authors meant.

Translations have worried theologians and translators for centuries. Translators face the challenge of remaining true to the original text, but also offering readers an understandable text, Dutch pubic news service NOS reported on Tuesday.

Bishops have already indicated they will not use the new translation in their liturgy. The same was also true when the revised Roman Catholic Willibrord bible was published in 1995.

In Jewish circles, the advertising campaign for the new translation has sparked indignation. One of the advertisements has described the Book of Ester in the Bible as an “old testament on which blood was splashed”.

The Dutch Jewish Church Society (Nederlands-Israelitisch Kerkgenootschap) said it was “shocking” that the Jewish faith was again portrayed as bloodthirsty.

Critics and backers of the book claim that priests will have their work cut out for them. The Bible now has a modern feel, but the Greek and Hebrew texts will still be needed to give adequate explanations, NOS reported.

Queen Beatrix will be presented with the new translation in the concert hall De Doelen in Rotterdam on Wednesday, while 500 famous and less famous Dutch people will read the new text aloud in the coming days at the Rotterdam book store Donner.

The translation was carried out by the Dutch Bible Society (Nederlands Bijbelgenootschap) in co-operation with the Catholic Bible Foundation (Katholieke Bijbelstichting), the Flemish Bible Foundation (Vlaamse Bijbelstichting) and the Flemish Bible Society (Vlaams Bijbelgenootschap).

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