THE PRIMARY CANON
Second Edition (2016)
Bible Versions used by the
New Covenant Assemblies of Yahweh
NCAY has never had a particular version of the Bible which it exclusively endorses as we do not believe there is one single perfect or 'best' translation. With new English versions constantly being produced, our list of 'favourites' is therefore constantly in flux. Each member of NCAY has his/her favourite versions, inevitably. Over the years we have written critiques of individual Bible versions which you can read on Bible Versions sub-site which you are invited to check up.
The 1997 Favourites
This article, which was originally prepared in 1997, singles out those versions which we favoured at the time. We have left these unmodified for historical purposes. These were:
- (1) The Hebraic-Roots Version (HRV), regarded by us in 1997 as the most accurate NT version in print, and was the preferred Hebraic-based version for congregational use;
- (2) the New King James Version (NKJV), was favoured because of its felicity to the textus receptus (which at the time we believed was the superior base text, a question since challenged) and its beautiful literary style, was the preferred Greek-based version for congregational use;
- (3) the Institute for Scripture Research Version (ISRV) was favoured as a study Bible for the Priesthood and is a compliment to the HRV;
- (4) the Jewish Bible (JNT) by David Stern for Priesthood study because it (a) conveyed the essential Jewishness of the early Messianic Community (Church), and (b) had a correct approach to the New Covenant Torah (Law) which is largely absent from all other English-language translations (apart from the HRV and ISRV). It does, however, suffer from the same weaknesses as most modern English versions (like the NIV) inasmuch as it is a dynamic equivalent version and thus susceptible to human interpretation;
- (5) the Concordant Version of the New Testament, probably the most accurate Greek New Testament but literal to a fault making it hard to follow for all but the most serious Bible students; and
- (6) the Amplified Version (Amp.V.), a Greek-based translation which beautifully conveys the mutliple senses of Greek words that other versions tend to obfuscate.
Though other translations were - and still are - frequently used, such as the Authorised King James Version (KJV), Revised Standard Version (RSV), Moffatt Version (Moff.), New International Version (NIV), and others, most of these suffer from the same problems as the JNT and others. The Olive Branch contains a number of fresh translations of the Bible, mostly revisions of the NIV.
The Aborted New Covenant Version Project
A New Covenant Version of the Bible (NCV), a project of this ministry, never really got off the ground and was abandoned quite early on. Current NCV revisions that have survived (they are listed near the bottom of the Olive Branch page) were mosly based on the New King James Version (NKJV), and contain elements of the NIV and JNT. There are no plans to restart this project as we lack the expertise, time and resources.
New Protestant Versions
Since the original time of writing of this article, many new versions have come into being and others, not previously considered, have been scrutinised. Versions which have become more widely used are the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), the favourite of scholars which, though it has a liberal bias, is extremely useful inasmuch as The New Interpreter's Study Bible lists all textual variants. The English Standard Version (ESV), another scholarly work, though this time conservative, is also much liked now, and does the same in the ESV Study Bible. A very useful scholarly paraphrase is N.T.White's Kingdom New Testament (KNT) and the Concordant Version now includes the Tanakh (Old Testament).
New Messianic Versions
Many new Messianic versions have appeared over the years, in addition to the HRV, ISRV and JNT (including new revisions - the JNT now includes the Tanakh or Old Testament as is today called the Complete Jewish Bible or CJB), such as the Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB), Halleluyah Scriptures (a clone of the ISRV), The Messianic Aleph-Tav Scriptures (MATS) and The Aleph-Tav Old Testament (ATOT). One which we widely use now, though it has one or two weaknesses (and is very expensive), is the Aramaic English New Testament (AENT) and is definitely en par with the HRV though lacking some of the latter's insights.
Problems Finding Versions for Mission and Congregational Used
The Bible version choice for use on the mission field and in local congregations where English is the main tongue cannot, unfortunately, only be based on excellence of translation, though ideally it should be. There are always major problems like cost to consider as well as well as Bible Versions availability and readableness. Though not always possible, for economic reasons, we recommend that members own a couple of versions - one Protestant and one Messianic and as you will have read above, we originally favoured the NKJV and HRV. The problem with the latter is that it very expensive and few but the occasional pastor are able to afford it. The cheapest Messianic version (if bought in bulk) is the Halleluyah Scriptures (HS) but unfortunately this is not one we particularly like but until a cheaper messianic version becomes available this is one many are opting for.
Messianised Protestant Versions
There are some 'messianised' versions of Protestant versions but because of copyright issues these are few and far between and are not always the best. Various on-line public domain versions are available but these aren't much use in third world countries where the oridinary members can't afford a computer, let alone have access to one, for whom a hardcopy Bible is essential. A messianised KJV exists bust most people cannot understand old Jacobean English, making it useless to all but those actually raised on the KJV. This is our dilemma.
Horns of a Dilemma
Whatever choice is made for local congregations, the pastor must have a set of decent versions so that he can correct the errors in the cheaper ones. All pastors have CD-ROM copies of the main website where they can study revisions off-line. As far as Protestant versions are concerned, the choice tends to be between the NKJV and the ESV today (2016). At some point or other, NCAY will have to choose one Bible version that can become standard throughout all the assemblies and then issue a continually updated booklet containing revisions/corrections to that version. That remains our goal. Our problem is that current Messianic versions, though using True Names and better reflecting Hebrew roots, cannot begin to compare with the scholarly professionalism of the cream of the Protestant versions (NRSV, ESV, etc.). As English literature, most of the messianic versions are frankly awful which is why Protestant ones, along with cost issues, still tend to be favoured by most members. How this will be resolved is presently unclear but remains high on our action agenda.
To keep up-to-date with current NCAY preferences, please see Article 6 of the current Constitution.
For more articles on this topic, see Bible Versions
This page was created on 8 February 1997
Updated on 18 December 2016
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