Darrell Pursiful has put up Biblical Studies Carnival XXXIX over on his Dr Platypus blog. It’s excellent and on time.
I had intended to suggest a post for inclusion but March snuck up on me so I’ll just link to it here: Tim Bulkeley’s contribution to the discussion on What should a Bible Translation look like?
I agree with him that the section headings in Bible translations can be misleading. There are definitely section headings that push a particular theological barrow – such as the one that often appears in Ephesians 5 to separate v 21 from 22, thus making it look as though submission in marriage is not supposed to be a mutual thing. Sometimes they’re just inaccurate, like the one in Matthew 14 that tells us that Jesus feeds 5,000 when the text actually tells us that there were 5,000 men plus women and children. This happens again in ch 15, where the 4,000 of the heading is also just the number of men. Headings at the top of the page work for me in my dictionary – although it would be good if the headings at the top of columns provided info about all the sections on the page, not just one item, as is the case in my RSV. I would definitely keep the notes that indicate translation issues – it might decrease the number of church-goers who genuinely believe that their particular translation conveys exactly what Jesus said.
The verse numbers are essential and chapters are definitely useful. I’m not sure about paragraphs. They save space but they probably also sometimes make arbitrary divisions in sense units because of the editor’s theology.
The chapter and verse divisions are not, however, self-evident to the beginner reader. A student I knew who grew up in an atheist home borrowed a copy of Moltmann’s Creating a Just Future from me and reported the next day that it had taken him over an hour to work out how to find the references in the Gideon’s Bible he had at home but he persevered because he found Moltmann so fascinating.
My pet peeve is the habit of starting the pagination again at the beginning of the New Testament. While it may be useful for private study, it’s a total pain in a pew Bible. “The reading can be found on page 26 of your pew bibles” says the reader about the gospel reading for the day. The friends and family members of the couple who’ve brought their baby for baptism all understand this as a command and then look totally puzzled when the bit they’re looking at in the blue book that the rest of the congregation has picked up is telling them all about the exploits of Abraham and Sarah and the bit they’re hearing is telling them about the teachings of Jesus. Yet another reason for them not to bother coming back again!