Thursday, March 31, 2011

THE TWENTY-THIRD PSALM: A PSALM OF DAVID


Psalm 23     King James Version

The LORD is my shepherd; *
    I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; *
    he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul; *
    he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his
                             Name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; *
    for thou art with me;
    thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of
                             mine enemies; *
    thou annointest my head with oil;
    my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days
                             of my life, *
    and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
+++   +++   +++
Our psalm for April 3rd, the Fourth Sunday in Lent. 
This is Scripture my mother taught me when I was a boy. And it was on the poster board at Cove School to be memorized and recited in class as the school year went along. To make it even sweeter, the children at Holy Nativity Episcopal School learned it all through Lent, a verse a week, to recite the whole psalm by Easter. It may be the most loved psalm in the Bible. More often than not families request it for funerals. 
Was it written by David the shepherd boy while out in the fields tending his father’s flock? That’s the tradition. With other traditions I’m eager to dig in with research and seek the truth, come whence it may, cost what it will. Not with the twenty-third psalm. I’m leaving this one alone. David wrote it as a boy, the same age I was when I learned it. 
Regardless how scholars try, no English translation of the Hebrew twenty-third psalm can improve on the King James Version. Holy poetry does not get more lyrical.
Here’s another translation. Would yo’ mama ask you to memorize this? For contemporary English it's clear as a bell. For prose it’s burlesque and needs a banjo. For poetry it’s doggerel and wants a scooper.
+++   +++   +++
Psalm 23 (The Message)
A David Psalm
 1-3 God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing. 
   You have bedded me down in lush meadows, 
      you find me quiet pools to drink from. 
   True to your word, 
      you let me catch my breath 
      and send me in the right direction. 
 4 Even when the way goes through 
      Death Valley, 
   I'm not afraid 
      when you walk at my side. 
   Your trusty shepherd's crook 
      makes me feel secure. 
 5 You serve me a six-course dinner 
      right in front of my enemies. 
   You revive my drooping head; 
      my cup brims with blessing. 
 6 Your beauty and love chase after me 
      every day of my life. 
   I'm back home in the house of God 
      for the rest of my life.

THE PEACE OF THE LORD BE ALWAYS WITH YOU.
TW+


Photo: my house. Thank you, Kristen!



Wednesday, March 30, 2011



A dear friend asked me on Facebook 
"Do you think they should put prayer back in school?"
“Prayer in Schools” is a rock-throwing, shouting, name-calling contest that has become a frenzy of “rights” far too emotionally charged on the political and religious spectrum to be a friendly back and forth on Facebook.
But on my personal and private weblog here’s my view.
When I was a child at Cove School we had prayer every morning, a Christian devotional, and we had Bible memory verses to do. During World War II for the first time we had military dependents at Cove School, Americans from all over the country. In one class I witnessed a teacher being unkind to a child -- a beautiful little girl from up north whose father was an army doctor -- a teacher being unkind to a child because her Jewish parents did not approve of our Southern custom of Christian devotions at school. The teacher’s hateful prejudice is branded in my mind.  
In America there are private schools for Christians and Muslims and others who want prayer in school. Holy Nativity Episcopal School is one. There is Christian prayer for the entire school every morning, teachers may open class with prayer, and meetings are opened with prayer. Wednesday there is chapel, a worship service, for everyone. All who are admitted to the school understand this, as do all who are employed at the school. Reiterated by Jesus, the Old Testament commandment to love God and love neighbor is a constant. Holy Nativity is a private Christian school.
But public schools and civic events are not forums for evangelistic fervor. Christians who pray in public need to pray with kindness and consideration, sensitively and mindful that folks may be present who have very different views and beliefs. To do so is to love neighbor. In my experience however that is seldom the case. In a public forum, a hands-clenched-eyes-squinched prayer “in Jesus holy and precious name Amen” is mindless, unloving, inconsiderate, thoughtless, unkind, but that is usually what happens. Cramming one’s religion down others’ throat is not an American right and is not Christian witness but rather is offensive, a way to make enemies for Christ, unforgivable nigh unto Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit. At the very least it is the sin of certitude.
So then. Prayer in school? In private schools, yes, absolutely. In public school anyone who wishes to pray may pray privately. 
Christians are commanded to love God and love neighbor. We who walk in the Way of the Cross are not called to be militant about our rights, but mindful of our responsibilities.
TW+ 


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

DO YOU SEE THE SON OF MAN?



The gospel reading for next Sunday is John 9:1-41, a story of a blind beggar. The disciples ask whether the man is blind because of someone's sin. Jesus says not for some sin but that God may do a sign. He then heals the man born blind by spitting on the ground, making mud, rubbing it on the man’s eyes, and telling him to wash it off in the pool of Siloam. Because Jesus did this on the Sabbath it brings on another struggle with the hostile Pharisees. 
After the healing the Pharisees are grilling the formerly blind man, who is sarcastic with them and gets kicked out. Hearing about this, Jesus finds the man and asks him, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 
In John’s gospel Jesus does miracles and the miracles bring on faith in Jesus as the divine one come from God. In the synoptic gospels he seems to use “son of man” as an oblique title for himself as a human being. But this is John’s gospel where the highly charged term has cosmic implications. This was not lost on the blind Judean in the story nor would it have been lost on John’s likely audience, a late first century or early second century Jewish Christian church. The title is messianic. Jesus stirs the image of the Son of Man of Daniel 7:13-14, a figure who appeared to Daniel in a night vision. The Son of Man would not be simply a human creature but a divine being whom God the Ancient of Days would summon to himself then send to earth with power and authority. In asking the healed beggar, “Do you believe in the Son of Man,” Jesus claims the divine title for himself. And the blind man sees. But Jesus’ enemies are too blind to see. The story is almost lyrical.
Listen as Daniel tells his beautiful dream:  
I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

Like the man who was blind, we also see Jesus here.
May your day be truly blessed.
May you see the Son of Man every day.
And may all the world see the Son of Man in your lifetime.
Fr. Tom+


Photo: thanks again, RevRay.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Books

Books
Monday morning, March 28, 2011.
Five months ago I wasn’t supposed to be here this morning. That was not frightening but disappointing because I’m not finished.
Especially Books. Books underway. Books yet to read. 
Two books underway.
The Authentic Letters of Paul - A New Reading of Paul’s Rhetoric and Meaning. A. J. Dewey, R. W. Hoover, L. C. McGaughy, D. D. Schmidt. Polebridge Press. 2010. In the Scholars Version, it’s translation, commentary, essays on the seven books of the New Testament that modern scholars agree are actually letters from the hand of St. Paul, and in what seems to be his chronological order of writing them instead of the usual canonical order:
1 Thessalonians
Galatians
1 Corinthians
2 Corinthians
Philemon
Philippians
Romans
The Complete Gospels, edited by Robert J. Miller. Polebridge Press. 2010, 1994, 1992. Fourth Edition. Also in the Scholars Version. Essays, commentary, new translations of the Bible’s four canonical Gospels, plus the Gospels of Thomas, Judas, and Mary, the Q Gospel, the Signs Gospel, the Mystical Gospel of Mark, and a dozen other Gospels from the first three centuries. Lots of surprises lots to learn a lot explained.
Both books are excellent, readable. I’d recommend them for anyone seriously interested in studying the New Testament, perhaps especially folks who have had, or are now completing, or are registering for EfM Year Two. My EfM mentor license expired because the re-certification class for which I was registered was while I was in Cleveland, so I’ve had to retire at least for the time being. But if I were still an EfM mentor I would prescribe them as Summer Reading for folks completing Year One and registering for Year Two.
In his farewell remarks the last day of class, my Theology professor at Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania recommended strongly that we not consider our education complete upon graduating seminary, but continue to read, study, explore, broaden. That was 1981 and I have learned a lot more in subsequent reading and studies, on my own, in Bible study groups, and in EfM, than I ever learned in seminary.
Personal, private reading is tremendously rewarding. Sharing with others is even more so.
TW+

Sunday, March 27, 2011

HAPPY BIRTHDAY HAPPY PSALM

Psalm 96 (The Message)

  Sing God a brand-new song! Earth and everyone in it, sing! 
   Sing to God—worship God! 
 2-3 Shout the news of his victory from sea to sea, 
   Take the news of his glory to the lost, 
   News of his wonders to one and all! 
 4-5 For God is great, and worth a thousand Hallelujahs. 
   His terrible beauty makes the gods look cheap; 
   Pagan gods are mere tatters and rags. 
 5-6 God made the heavens— 
   Royal splendor radiates from him, 
   A powerful beauty sets him apart. 
 7 Bravo, God, Bravo! 
   Everyone join in the great shout: Encore! 
   In awe before the beauty, in awe before the might. 
 8-9 Bring gifts and celebrate, 
   Bow before the beauty of God, 
   Then to your knees—everyone worship! 
 10 Get out the message—God Rules! 
   He put the world on a firm foundation; 
   He treats everyone fair and square. 
 11 Let's hear it from Sky, 
   With Earth joining in, 
   And a huge round of applause from Sea. 
 12 Let Wilderness turn cartwheels, 
   Animals, come dance, 
   Put every tree of the forest in the choir— 
 13 An extravaganza before God as he comes, 
   As he comes to set everything right on earth, 
   Set everything right, treat everyone fair.
+++   +++   +++
Sing a brand new song” exhorts the psalm but we sang an old song for Charlotte yesterday “Happy birthday to you” and suddenly the little girl under the Birthday Hat was six years old. A weekend decorated with fun food sand and gifts. And sweaty work too thank you very much, thank you very much indeed. 
Linda had the leaves blown off and the pool sparkling and ninety degrees and they enjoyed it Friday afternoon. Longtime family favorite Mom's Usual sweet and sour pork dinner Friday evening. Caroline was up with me-and-the-birds Saturday predawn wired for her sister’s birthday. Totally wired. Saturday morning TJC1C2 to St. Andrews State Park for squeaky white sand and cold salty surf, noontime returned and back in the fresh warm pool. Saturday evening birthday celebration of grilled hamburgers grilled mushrooms and double chocolate cake. Joyful  hysterics opening presents. One: a Perfect Petzzz cat in a basket: a Siamese cat, realistic fur, press the electric button and it breathes. Sleeps and breathes. Truly the Perfect Pet.
Before Thanksgiving my Christmas gift request of the next generation was they paint the trim on the Beach Drive front of the house and they promised. But Christmas was filled with thoughts of Cleveland so painting was postponed till this weekend. Brushes white paint wire brush extension ladder waiting, Tass and Jeremy brought skill time enthusiasm and love. 1912-13 looks 2011. Happy birthday weekend and a grateful, truly grateful old man. 
Appointed for this morning’s Daily Office Lectionary are Psalms 93 and 96. Psalm of choice is 96, no Lenten drab here. Not KJV memorable The Message 96 is a joyful noise, a happy, jubilant, downright eccentric joyful noise.
  
Let Wilderness turn cartwheels, 
   Animals, come dance, 
   Put every tree of the forest in the choir.
Bravo, God, bravo.
Fr. Tom+


Saturday, March 26, 2011

THE OLD WAYS WERE BEST




    


Venite, exultemus Domino.



COME, let us sing unto the LORD; * let us heartily re- joice in the strength of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving; * and show ourselves glad in him with psalms.
For the LORD is a great God; * and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are all the corners of the earth; * and the strength of the hills is his also.
The sea is his, and he made it; * and his hands prepared the dry land.
O come, let us worship and fall down, * and kneel before the LORD our Maker.
For he is the Lord our God; * and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.
O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness; * let the whole earth stand in awe of him.
For he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth; * and with righteousness to judge the world, and the peoples with his truth.

In the old days (the old ways were best) we had Morning Prayer three Sundays a month, all but the First Sunday, when we had Holy Communion. The Invitatory (opening canticle) was always either the Venite or the Jubilate, sung to heavenly Anglican Chant, four part harmony. Those Hymnal 1940 tunes are gone, replaced with new. After the late twentieth century music and liturgical reforms were settled in place the old Anglican Chant was still sung beautifully at Trinity Apalachicola with Ina Meyer or Myra Ponder at the organ.
There are some really fine modern Venite settings though, one being S-35 a chant tune by J. N. White.  
Psalm 95 is the proper psalm for tomorrow, the Third Sunday in Lent. The psalm is longer than the sung Venite (which now goes through verse 7), and includes the last four verses, 8-11. Verses 1-7 represent the sung praise of the people. Verses 8-11 change completely and are in the nature of oracle, God himself speaking, responding to the praise of the first seven verses. This oracle sounds a bit ominous, a veiled threat, a warning. A perfect Lenten liturgical response to the Old Testament reading, Exodus 17:1-7.

95  Venite, exultemus
1Come, let us sing to the LORD; *
    let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.
2Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving *                         and raise a loud shout to him with psalms.
3For the LORD is a great God, *
    and a great King above all gods.
4In his hand are the caverns of the earth, *
    and the heights of the hills are his also.
5The sea is his, for he made it, *
    and his hands have molded the dry land.


6Come, let us bow down, and bend the knee, *
    and kneel before the LORD our Maker.
7For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. Oh, that today you would hearken to his voice!


8Harden not your hearts,
as your forebears did in the wilderness, *
    at Meribah, and on that day at Massah,
    when they tempted me.
9They put me to the test, *
    though they had seen my works.
10Forty years long I detested that generation and said, *
   "This people are wayward in their hearts;
    they do not know my ways."
11So I swore in my wrath, *
   "They shall not enter into my rest."





Right shoe first.
Shabbat: shalom.
TW+


Photo: Wilderness of Zin

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Disconnected Ramble



TV and the NYT bring to mind that my international economics professor at the University of Michigan liked to say the only role of Congress in wartime is to criticize the President’s prosecution of the war. He was looking back at WWII and Korea. Seems still so.
Friday again, eh! Tass and Jeremy, Caroline and Charlotte arrive from Tallahassee late this morning for Charlotte’s sixth birthday weekend. Nancy is baking a cake double chocolate and Charlotte the chocoholic will want chocolate ice cream to go with it.
Lenten Wednesday Evening has been a favorite weekday church event since the 1940s. We had a covered dish supper every Wednesday evening of Lent at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church my growing up years. Always delicious food especially the collards often brought by Mrs. Baker, Henry Breland’s grandmother. Her collards, and the very large baked red snapper my mother brought. After supper the youth were excused and the rector had a teaching on “Love, Acceptance & Discipline.” I felt fortunate to be "youth" having come not to listen but to eat collards and red snapper. Eating really good at church in Lent helps deepen one's sense of sin and penitence until Wednesday comes round again.
That was sixty and more years ago. My favorite Lenten Soup Supper dish these years is Linda’s oyster stew, incomparably sinful. Nearly a gallon of oysters, milk, half and half cream, onions, celery, “and an old shoestring” as Colonel Sanders used to say on TV when talking about his secret fried chicken recipe, in the days when Colonel Sanders was a real person though not a real colonel. What makes the oyster stew so special? The old shoestring. Whoever missed Soup Supper at Holy Nativity last Wednesday missed it missed it missed it. All the soups were tasty and the rector's open discussion was good and all sins of gluttony are forgiven. +
The other memorable Lenten Wednesday evenings were soup & bread suppers at St. Thomas, Laguna Beach. Wonderful fellowship especially when Easter was early thus making Lent early and our beloved Northerners were still here. Jammed church for worship followed by Soup & Bread Supper in crowded Jewell Hall.
Jewell Hall was named for the Reverend George A. P. Jewell, who was here in the 1940s and into the ‘50s. Mr. Jewell was English, divorced, lived in a trailer on Baker Court and was active in our parish life at St. Andrew’s. After St. Thomas by the Sea, Laguna Beach was formed Mr. Jewell was called to be their priest. Mr. Jewell was very likable. Every Saturday morning he came into our fish market on 12th Street in St. Andrews, visited with me for a few minutes, and got his “free pound of shrimps” as he said, our weekly gift because he loved “shrimps” so much.
My grandfather, A. D. Weller, was the first treasurer of St. Thomas by the Sea when St. Thomas was a new mission of St. Andrew’s and Pop was treasurer there as well. He drove a 1937 Chevrolet Master Town Sedan until Kaiser-Frazer came out and he drove a 1947 Kaiser for a few years. Kaiser and Frazer cars were made in a former WWII bomber plant in Willow Run, Michigan. By the time of St. Thomas, Pop was back to Chevrolet again. 


Enough rambling disconnected nonsense for this morning.
Tom+



Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thankful



The mind varies
Wanders. 
Some mornings serious 
Some mornings whimsical 
Some mornings reminiscing
Some mornings theologizing
Most mornings nonsensical
Always thankful.
For life
And love.
For family
Friends 
Associates
Far and near.
For what I am
Husband
Father
Grandfather
Uncle
Brother
Son
Friend
Priest pastor preacher teacher
Student
Human
American
Christian
Alive
Alive
And Well
Thankful
Always thankful
Always.
TW+

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Jesus and the Samaritan Woman




The Third Sunday in Lent we have a long Gospel reading, namely John 4:5-42. Jesus and his disciples are going from a festival in Jerusalem of Judea (11) back home to Galilee and as the map shows he has to go through Samaria to get there. They stop at Sychar (12), a town enroute. The reading is the story of Jesus sitting at Jacob’s well while his disciples go off to town to buy food.  A woman comes with her bucket to draw water. Jesus asks her to give him a drink and engages her in conversation, a major social blunder because Jews did not speak to Samaritans. 
That Jewish snub of Samaritans goes back to when the Assyrian Empire conquered Israel, Samaria the northern kingdom about 721 B.C. The Assyrians deported much of the population of Israel to other conquered lands and imported conquered people from elsewhere to populate the land that had been Israel: bringing Gentile foreigners polluted the land God had given to Israel. Over time everyone intermarried, mongrelizing the population in the eyes of the Jews. And the Samaritans worshiped at their own shrine in Samaria instead of at the Jerusalem temple like proper Jews. Samaritans were held in contempt. Thus the snub. 
Israel came to be called Samaria because the capital and the holy shrine were at the city Samaria (map Sebaste 12). In more poetic passages Israel is also sometimes called Jacob.
When the disciples return they are stunned to find Jesus in the scandalous impropriety of a conversation with a woman. More especially a Samaritan woman. Most especially a loose woman. Well, she was, read the story. The lectionary scholars could as well have ended the lesson when the disciples return and the story ends, but no they added the teaching about harvest time and so on and neglected to make it optional, so we have a long Gospel reading that actually could be two readings. Sometimes I find myself doing that when preaching: reach a perfect conclusion but go blithely on to preach another sermon or two.
This story of Jesus and The Samaritan Woman at Jacob’s Well is full of study opportunity. In a midweek Bible discussion about if we would wonder about several things and ask questions about the story -- 
Why did Jesus ask the Samaritan woman for water but then tell her that if she had his living water she would never thirst again? Why did the woman hurry off when the disciples returned? She was in such a hurry she forgot her water jug. What was the Evangelist’s purpose in reporting that?
The story -- especially when one reads the entire story, the rest of John chapter 4 -- the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman brings to mind Elijah and the Zarephath woman and Elisha and the Shunnamite woman. Is there any significance to that?.
After the disciples left it was only Jesus and the woman at the well, and when the disciples returned no one asked Jesus about it: so how did John the Evangelist (Gospel writer) know what all Jesus said well enough to quote the entire conversation verbatim? Every writer has a purpose: what’s the Evangelist’s purpose in reporting this conversation? The conversation is powerfully charged with theology and teaching for John’s audience, possibly a Gentile Christian church. Is John making a point of Jesus bringing his message to the Gentiles, worst case: even to amoral Samaritan mud blood scum, and showing their instant faith in him?
The Fourth Gospel was written a generation later than the Synoptic Gospels -- Mark probably just after 70 A.D., maybe John 90 to 110 A.D. -- at a time when the Jewish Christian movement was dying out and the Gentile Christian church was growing: did the Evangelist have an agenda because he had a situation to deal with in his Jewish Christian church? 
What do many Bible scholars say about all the long verbatim quotes of Jesus’ words that we find in John’s gospel? The long discourse at John 15, 16, 17 for example. 
Over against Mark, Matthew and Luke in which Jesus makes no show of being divine by doing miracles, the Gospel of John presents Jesus specifically doing signs that prove his divinity. For example before chapter 4 ends, right after the gospel that we are reading on Sunday, Jesus returns to Galilee, stopping in Cana (10) where earlier he had turned the water into wine and John had called it the First Sign that revealed his glory. This time there’s a royal official whose son is dying. Jesus does not go to the sick little boy as the prophets had before him: he heals the child from afar by word alone, and John points out that this is now the Second Sign. 
What’s going on? Is there a significant difference in the Christology of John versus Mark thirty or forty years earlier: John seems much more developed. Why? What’s going on?
Fr. Tom+
Lenten soup supper at Holy Nativity tonight. 
Don’t miss it!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

English Translations of the Bible

In our Adult Sunday School class a question came up about new English translations of the bible. 
The Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church is published by every General Convention, the latest being 2009, and it authorizes specific translations of the Bible for liturgical use in our church. Title II, Of Worship, CANON 2 reads
CANON 2: Of Translations of the Bible
The Lessons prescribed in the Book of Common Prayer shall be read from the translation of the Holy Scriptures commonly known as the King James or Authorized Version (which is the historic Bible of this Church) together with the Marginal Readings authorized for use by the General Convention of 1901; or from one of the three translations known as Revised Versions, including the English Revision of 1881, the American Revision of 1901, and the Revised Standard Version of 1952; from the Jerusalem Bible of 1966; from the New English Bible with the Apocrypha of 1970; or from The 1976 Good News Bible (Today's English Version); or from The New American Bible (1970); or from The Revised Standard Version, an Ecumenical Edition, commonly known as the "R.S.V. Common Bible" (1973); or from The New International Version (1978); or from The New Jerusalem Bible (1987); or from the Revised English Bible (1989); or from the New Revised Standard Version (1990); or from translations, authorized by the diocesan bishop, of those approved versions published in any other language; or from other versions of the Bible, including those in languages other than English, which shall be authorized by diocesan bishops for specific use in congregations or ministries within their dioceses.
So we have do have rules. The Lessons may be read from any translation listed above. Most parishes these days seem to be reading from the New Revised Standard Version, which is also the translation recommended in EfM. I like the NRSV. I like the King James Version and always insisted upon the KJV for certain occasions and texts including the Christmas gospel from Luke 2, the Beatitudes from Matthew 5, and several psalms. The KJV also seems most memorable in language and in my view best for memory verses. For the children who were my Youth Lectors at St. Thomas by the Sea, Laguna Beach I provided the Contemporary English Version even though it isn’t specifically authorized. Lately I am enjoying a startling and intriguing modern translation called The Message quoting from it in my blog postings from time to time. 
This internet link is to an interesting piece about Bible translations. It’s not completely up to date in that it omits at least a couple of translations including the earthy Scholars Version and the just released Common English Bible. But it has a discussion of each translation and links to many sources. Most of the links work, some don’t. I planned to share this in Adult Sunday School on March 27 but decided that those who had been in my mid-week Bible studies and EfM classes were also likely to be interested.
and if the link doesn’t work the title to search for is “Recent English Bible Translations Compared by Wayne Leman.” Here are some extracts:
(Contemporary English Version): The CEV is highly readable, for both adults and children. It strives to preserve the meaning of the original in natural English expressions and is even more successful at this than was its predecessor, the GNT. 100 translation experts led by Dr. Barclay Newman contributed to the CEV. It tackles most translation difficulties, including Greek genitives and similar problems, which are often left undertranslated in versions which focus more on the original forms. In 1996 the CEV won the coveted Crystal Award from the Plain English Campaign in the United Kingdom.
NRSV(New Revised Standard Version): highly regarded in scholarly circles. Reads about as well as the NIV.
TM (The Message): attractive, gripping English style, overall. A real pleasure to read. The Message challenges and convicts me as no other recent English Bible translation does. Occasional overuse of idioms not familiar to the majority of fluent English speakers. The Message is reviewed by John R. Kollenberger III.
Leman has conclusions and recommendations. Especially interesting are his links to other web sites same subject.
Bible translations are like food: what is good depends on your tastes and needs and uses. There is no one best Bible translation. I like to have many translations handy.
TW+