Today I saw that there is now a review of the NET Bible on the This Lamp blog. This review was promised a while ago and I am glad to see that it has finally arrived. But I am putting off reading that review until I write my own which I begins right now. (I do highly recommend reading the This Lamp review even without have read it because I am sure it is well done and will provide detailed information that I will not cover.)
The NET Bible is short for New English Translation but it is really only referred to as the NET Bible. The NET Bible was created by bible.org for use in their internet based ministries. They wanted an up to date English translation that could be used without cost. They also provide the NET Bible with all of its notes available online. The current version called the First Edition was produced in 2005. Prior to this ‘beta’ versions were released to help get feed back for the translation. You can still give comments on the translation at their website. Their intention is to update the translation every five years.
In terms of translation philosophy the NET Bible is similar to the New International Version. By this I mean that it takes a mediating position between a formal and dynamic translation philosophy. This was a translation done from scratch rather than a revision of an existing translation. This is one reason for the beta releases of the translation.
I would describe the NET Bible as a conservative evangelical translation. Although some conservatives will take offense at the translation of the ever controversial Isaiah 7:14 passage with their use of the term ‘young woman’ rather than ‘virgin’ This Bible does use gender inclusive language. I would call the NET Bible moderate in this area. When there is a masculine, singular pronoun (he, him, his) that refers to both men and women, the translation keep the masculine, singular pronoun. This avoids the problems with the other alternates: changing from the third to the second person (he to you) or changing from singular to plural (he to they).
The most obvious feature of the NET Bible are the massive translator’s notes. The spine of the Bible states that there are 60,932 translator’s notes. There are four types of notes. There are Map Notes that indicate a map number for locations given in the Bible text. I think that these notes are a waste of space since there is an index at the beginning of the map section. There are also some Study Notes that are a bit inconsistent. One difficulty is that there are not a lot of Study Notes so they are not always available where you might want one. Now the Bible is already fairly large so a significant increase in the number of Study Notes would probably not be advisable. Personally I could live without the Study Notes, but they can be useful. The more significant notes are the Translator’s Notes and Text-Critical Notes.
The Translator’s Notes are a place for the translators to explain the reasoning behind their choices of words. This may involve a discussion of the differences among other Bible translations. It may provide an alternate or more literal translation. Or it may be a discussion of the alternates with the reason for the choice made. The Translator’s Notes really are unique and very useful.
The Text-Critical Notes are essentially an expansion of the traditional ‘other manuscripts read’ notes. The Text-Critical Notes give information about what manuscripts provide the alternate readings. They can also provide the reasoning behind the choices made by the translation committee. The Text-Critical Notes are very useful and much appreciated.
My one negative comment is that the notes could be better written and edited. They tend to be more wordy than need be. It seems that the same information could be said with fewer words. And shorter notes would mean that the physical size of the Bible would be reduced. But the translation as a whole is excellent and the notes are also very useful.
Now comes the time to discuss the print editions of the NET Bible. The first thing to note is the limited availability for these Bibles. The primary source of the NET Bible is from the bible.org store on their web site. Christian Book Distributors has also begun to sell them. However beyond this they are hard to find. This includes local Christian Bookstores which are unlikely to have a copy. I have purchased my copies of the NET Bible from the bible.org web site with no problems.
The standard version of the NET Bible is the First Edition.
|From Bible Pictures|
This edition has the full set of notes. The text is double column with black letters. They call the bonded leather ‘premium’ and it really does feel quite nice. The size is comparable to most study Bibles. The one formatting quirk is that this edition does not have the large chapter numbers found in most Bibles. Instead each verse number is preceded by the chapter number. I rather like this since the bold chapter numbers are not always placed between pericopes (sections of text).
The other print copy of the NET Bible that I own is the Reader’s Edition.
|From Bible Pictures|
This has an abbreviated set of notes. Like the First Edition the verse numbers are preceded by the chapter numbers. However the typical large chapter numbers are also included which seems rather odd. The format is double column with black letter text. The print is larger than in the First Edition and the paper is a bit thicker. It is a very good edition for reading and fairly portable.
The NET Bible is an excellent translation that I highly recommend. It was my main Bible for several years. During this past year I have been trying out some different translations as my primary Bible but will probably go back to the NET Bible. I don’t know of anyone else who uses this translation in fact no one (including my pastors) had even heard of the NET Bible before I mention it. Hopefully copies of it will begin to appear in local bookstores and on Amazon.com. It definitely is among the best translations available today.