Has anyone heard of the Literal Standard Version?

C

Chuckz

Guest

A Groundbreaking New Bible Translation Was Released This Year, and It Charts a Different Course​


Has anyone heard of the Literal Standard Version? I downloaded the Bible onto my Kindle for a dollar. The amazon reviews tell me more than what I have been able to find. I read only a little bit of this Bible so far.
 

Septextura

Well-known member
Found this detailed review on Amazon. I hope it helps.

Part 1

LSV - An Intriguing New Literal Translation of the Christian Bible w/ Paradoxical Qualities
By D. Harris on Feb 22, 2020

This review is for the first print edition of the Literal Standard Version (LSV) of the The Holy Bible by Covenant Press (05-Feb-2020, ISBN: 978-0999892473). I purchased my copy from Amazon.com for $22.22 plus tax and free Prime shipping.

The LSV is a modern English translation of the Christian Bible by Covenant Press. It is both intriguing and paradoxical. To understand its internal contradictions, we need to step back and consider the two general groups that most Bible readers fall into...

One group believes that the Bible contains the words of God as “breathed” by the Holy Spirit. This is what the Bible, itself, claims (in both the Old and the New Testaments). The Bible also contains dire warnings not to alter, add to or delete its words. The second group does not believe any of this.

-- Bibles for Group 1 --
Because translators from Group 1 believe that the original autographs of the Bible contain God’s words and that its warnings are true, they try to translate them as literally as possible (formal equivalence) from manuscript sources which they trust. They believe that Satan exists and continually tries to corrupt and discredit the Bible. Yet they also believe that the Holy Spirit has supernaturally protected God’s words through the intervening ages. So they are wary of manuscripts that show signs of tampering or editing—even when they are very old. For Protestants and Evangelicals, the trusted sources include the Masoretic Text for the Hebrew and Aramaic of the Old Testament and the Textus Receptus or “Traditional Text” (and its progeny) for the Greek of the New Testament.

-- Bibles for Group 2 --
Because the translators from Group 2 do not believe that the Holy Spirit has preserved God’s words in the Bible, they seek to do two things: (A) Change or remove scriptures which they believe are false or inaccurate. (B) Translate what they believe to be the ideas or thoughts of the original autographs so they are understandable in the language of the destination culture (dynamic equivalence). For the Old Testament, many translators from Group 2 also use the Masoretic Text for the Hebrew and Aramaic. But they diverge strongly with the New Testament and use a highly edited Greek “Critical Text” derived from the work of Westcott and Hort such as the texts from Netsle-Aland and the United Bible Society (NU). Most modern English Bibles today are produced by Group 2.

-- LSV --
On page 5 of the LSV, Covenant Press claims to belong to Group 1 and their literal method of translation with careful attention to verb tense strongly supports this claim. In my reading of the LSV so far, the quality of their literal translation appears to be very high. Their handling of “theologically loaded” words is excellent. (For example, they use “Gehenna” instead of “hell” where appropriate in the New Testament.) So I was surprised to discover that the LSV is sprinkled with qualities from Group 2, leading the reader to question what they actually believe (see the two examples below).

Covenant Press says at the top of page 7 that the LSV is a major revision of the 1862-1898 literal translation of Robert Young (YLT). Young used the Masoretic Text and Textus Receptus for his translation. Covenant Press also uses the Masoretic Text and Textus Receptus, but expands its sources to include the Septuagint and Dead Sea Scrolls for the Old Testament and the Majority Text for the New Testament. Furthermore, Covenant Press appears to use the Netsle-Aland / United Bible Society (NU) text of Group 2 to boldly double-bracket supposed “disputed” scriptures in the New Testament.

What does the above mean to the reader? It means that numerous scripture passages in both the Old and New Testaments are set apart in the LSV with bold double-brackets as being “disputed” per page 8. Here are two prominent examples:

1 - Two different chronologies are presented in Genesis (see Genesis 5 beginning on page 15 of the LSV). The first chronology is based on the Hebrew Masoretic Text which has been meticulously preserved by the descendants of Judah. The second chronology is enclosed in bold double-brackets and is based on the Septuagint (a later Greek translation of the Hebrew).

2 - The last 12 verses of the Gospel of Mark are marked as disputed text (see Mark 16:9-20 on page 617 of the LSV). These verses are included in the Textus Receptus as well as the vast majority of existing Greek manuscripts (Majority Text), quotations from the early church fathers, and from lectionaries of the early church. The source of the dispute is present in the edited Greek “Critical Text” (NU) from Group 2 that is based on the omission of Mark 16:9-20 from the Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus. Very few scholars, including Westcott and Hort, ever viewed these codices or had any first-hand experience with them. Both codices are untrustworthy because they contain numerous Gnostic perversions to undermine the divinity of Jesus and both codices often disagree with each other. The Codex Vaticanus contains an unusual blank space for Mark 16:9-20 that is the exact correct size for it, showing that the scribe who produced the codex was aware of its existence. The Codex Sinaiticus is probably the most messy and corrected manuscript in existence, marred by over a thousand corrections.

The above are just two of the many examples where the LSV introduces confusion to the Christian Bible, undermining faith in Covenant Press’ claim to believe that God is able to preserve His words. And the unacknowledged use of Group 2 sources, like the NU or its progenitors, as a basis for marking “disputed” New Testament scriptures is unnecessary, appears dishonest (since the sources and context for the disputes are not divulged in the LSV) and is in direct opposition to Covenant Press’ claim.
 

Septextura

Well-known member
Part 2

-- God’s Name --
All Bible translators struggle with how to translate God’s name. Exodus 6:3 records the event when God revealed His name to the Hebrews. Later, when the first five books of the Bible (the Pentateuch) were written by Moses, this name was used many times. Unfortunately, the Hebrews did not include (or preserve) vowel marks. For many generations, the Hebrew words of the Old Testament contained only consonants. During this time, the Hebrews decided to stop pronouncing God’s name in order to avoid profaning it. Within a couple of generations, no one remembered how to pronounce it and, without vowel marks, the pronunciation was lost. Today all we have are the consonants YHWH (called the “Tetragrammaton”).

Over the years, Jewish scholars have invented various alternatives and euphemisms for YHWH such as Yahweh, Elohim, Adonai, LORD, etc. And Christians have adopted many of them. In 1530 “Jehovah” entered English for the first time when William Tyndale translated YHWH at Exodus 6:3 with it. But Tyndale translated YHWH as the title “LORD” in all other places. Many English Bibles after Tyndale also used Jehovah at Exodus 6:3 (including the 1611 Authorized King James version), but used LORD elsewhere.

Translating words letter-for-letter between the different alphabets of two languages (called transliteration) is not normally recommended and Covenant Press avoids it with one major exception: They chose to transliterate YHWH. The Hebrew YHWH appears 6,866 times in the Bible and the LSV displays the English consonants YHWH every time. This is nice because it clearly shows the reader when God’s name is used. But it does not render a pronounceable name. What is a reader to do when they must read out loud or quote scripture? They will probably pronounce YHWH as Yahweh.

Incidentally, the 1898 edition of Young’s Literal Version translated all instances of YHWH as “Jehovah”. In 1976 Jay P. Green, Sr., did the same in his modern English Literal Version (LITV) and again in 2006-2010 with his KJ3 literal version.

Personally, I like Yahweh and Jehovah because neither one is a euphemism. Rather, they are both honest attempts to translate YHWH into an equivalent English name. I don’t like LORD because YHWH is not a title—it is the personal name of God.

-- Apocrypha --
Since the apocryphal books are not accepted as biblical canon by Protestants and Evangelicals, they are not included in the LSV Bible. However, Covenant Press has translated them using the same literal methods of the LSV and they are available separately (ISBN: 978-0999892435).

-- Pictures and Maps --
The first edition of the LSV contains a number of illustrations scattered throughout the Old and New Testaments to illustrate key events. They appear to be pencil or charcoal drawings and they appear to have been made by a child. They also appear dark and moody. In my opinion, they detract from the quality of the printing and should have been omitted. Unfortunately, no maps are included.

-- Layout, Weight, Size and Cover --
The layout and pagination is very good, attractive and easy to read. However, the font size for the body text is a little small (which is why Genesis through Revelation consumes just 754 pages). Before I placed my order for the LSV, I wasn’t sure if I would like the cream-color of the pages. However, after I received it, I liked it because the color is subtle (like an off-white). The LSV is larger and heavier than most. It weighs 3 lbs 3.6 oz and is 10 inches tall x 7 inches wide x 2 inches thick.

The cover is paper. It is printed with a background that looks like brown faux leather and has a flat matte finish. The lettering is printed with a yellow ink that looks gold (but is not metallic). The cover is nice for a paperback and feels good to hold, but the flat matte finish is not durable—it can rub off, leaving shiny spots. My LSV was packed loose by Amazon in a box and it obviously slid around during shipment. So there were several places on the cover where the matte finish had rubbed off.

-- Recommendation to Readers --
If you are new to Christianity or are a casual Bible reader, my advice is to avoid the LSV for now. For a good literal translation in modern English, you’ll be better served with James F. Linzey’s Modern English Version (MEV) published by Passio or Jay P. Green Sr.’s KJ3 Literal Translation published by Sovereign Grace. The MEV is the most affordable and available in a wide variety of print sizes and bindings. The KJ3 is my favorite, but it’s harder to find and costs much more.

If you are a serious student of the Bible and like to dig deep, the LSV has much to offer. If you are not put off by the many passages marked as “disputed” by bold double-brackets, then the LSV would be a good choice and is an excellent value. However a better choice may be to purchase a full interlinear Bible if your budget allows. The best literal version for the Masoretic Text and Textus Receptus is Jay P. Green Sr.’s Interlinear Bible: Hebrew, Greek, English. It is available with small type in a single volume from Hendrickson Publishers (ISBN: 978-1565639775) or in a four-volume set in either standard or large type from Sovereign Grace. In addition to the literal English words underneath each Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek word, Green also includes a column containing his very readable LITV literal English translation with English sentence structure and correct verb tenses. Plus the latest 2007 edition of Volume 4 (New Testament) of the four-volume sets from Sovereign Grace adds new Greek typesetting and includes the Authorized KJV in another column for comparison. (Note: Green’s interlinear includes Strong’s numbers, so a Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance would be a great companion.)

-- Recommendation to Covenant Press --
There is a lot to like about the LSV. Thank you for publishing it. It will have wider appeal if you kindly omit the bold double-brackets throughout, including the alternate LXX chronologies in Genesis. Experienced readers can easily obtain that information from other sources.

Including art can add a nice touch and enhance the beauty, but the existing drawings in the LSV are just too crude, dark and depressing. Please replace them with nicer ones or simply ditch them entirely. Good maps of key Old and New Testament time periods would be greatly appreciated. For ideas, see the Oxford Bible Maps (they are the best and you could do something similar in B&W).

Lastly, because the matte finish of the cover can rub off, the LSV should be protected with shrink-wrap plastic before shipment. If these recommendations are adopted, I’ll be happy to raise my rating and recommend the LSV without reservation to any reader—even a newcomer or casual reader.
 

Septextura

Well-known member
Downloads

Online reader
 

En Hakkore

Active member
Has anyone heard of the Literal Standard Version?
Not until reading your thread. I secured a copy and am shocked at how dreadful it is on every level... I see nothing redeeming about it. The translator(s) imagine themselves and their product as a bulwark against the "perversion" of "translations [made] to appease a postmodern, progressive, and secular readership" (LSV 7), yet churn out something I would expect out of the dark ages and preface it with claims that should make any informed Christian cringe.

They elevate inerrancy to an essential doctrine when they claim "Christians regard the original autographic manuscripts to be directly inspired by God, inerrant ... and infallible" (LSV 5), inferring that if one does not do so then s/he is not a Christian. Inerrancy is a modern and misguided response to critical biblical scholarship embraced only within fundamentalist and some evangelical circles (the founder of CARM, for example, moves in such circles), but within which it has even been thoughtfully critiqued (Smith; Sparks).

The translator(s) are welcome to believe in inerrancy if they so choose, but it is no excuse for alienating in their preface a large proportion of Christians who are not so dogmatic about the subject and, worse still, making a number of misleading or blatantly false assertions about the manuscript evidence. In terms of the first, there is the claim that some manuscript copies "were made shortly after the originals and others were written many decades later" (LSV 5). The contrast implies that "shortly" means something less than "many decades", which is an extremely narrow window and one that could conceivably apply only to the single fragment from John 18 known as Papyrus 52 (Metzger and Ehrman 55-56). The terse comment of the LSV translator(s) conveys no proper understanding of the fragmentary nature of the earliest 'manuscripts' for either testament or that complete manuscripts of New Testament books come centuries (not decades) later and even longer windows exist for most books of the Hebrew Bible.

The translator(s) comments in the aforementioned case are irresponsible, but others are even more egregious and amount to errors outright. For example when they claim that the Dead Sea Scrolls (hereafter DSS) "show[] that the Old Testament we have today is equivalent to the one used by Christ and His disciples" (LSV 6). The biblical scrolls from Qumran and the surrounding area taken as a whole demonstrate nothing of the sort. To be sure, a text type similar (not equivalent) to the Masoretic Text (hereafter MT) was reflected among some of the DSS (Tov 108), but so were text types that support unique readings in the Samaritan Pentateuch (hereafter SP) and the Septuagint (hereafter LXX), as well as some previously unknown readings (Tov 108-10). The text of the Hebrew Bible in the late Second Temple Period was pluriform and unstable, evidencing evolution of certain sections (Müller et al.), truths that will not just disappear because they are inconvenient for the LSV translator(s) or their intended readers.

The translator(s) suggestion that the differences between the aforementioned "manuscript versions" involve "minor discrepancies" (LSV 5) is wishful thinking, particularly as it relates to the Hebrew Bible, and they claim to use different versions "where the evidence seems incontrovertible" --- but what this means is unclear and no criteria are given for when and why they introduce alternate readings directly into the translation inside double square brackets with a prefacing or as if the reader can pick whichever one suits their fancy. They are both selective and inconsistent. For example, they incorporate a reading from the DSS into Deut 32:8 and place the variant MT in brackets, yet translate 32:43 from MT without so much as mentioning the controversial DSS variant (for these readings consult Abegg et al. 191-93). In another example (Genesis 5), they provide in brackets the different genealogical data of LXX but not that of SP, yet the former is no closer to the putative "original" than the latter, nor is MT for that matter since all three text traditions reflect adjustments to a now-lost archetype (Miano 67-76).

The translator(s) assumptions about the "original" text are thus theoretically naïve since text critics working on both testament have questioned and largely abandoned the pursuit of an "original" in favor of earliest recoverable forms of each text, which may be marked early on by variances owing to the interaction between textuality and orality, as well as performances within different communities (Carr; Martin; Wachtel and Holmes). Their approach represents a gigantic step backward for contemporary Bible translation and there is no excuse whatsoever in their choice to use the Textus Receptus as their base text for the New Testament rather than NA28, thereby incorporating numerous readings into the translation that have no viable claim to being "original" (Metzger and Ehrman) and many without the benefit of even bracketed alternatives from superior manuscripts.

These are some of the theoretical and text-base problems underpinning the LSV, which is itself atrocious as far as "translations" go --- it admits to being "essentially an interlinear in terms of word-for-word translation, but arranged with English sentence structure" (LSV 7). Indeed, the LSV comes across with a slavishness one might expect from someone using an interlinear with a rudimentary knowledge of the languages. I have referred to "translator(s)" throughout as there is no transparency as to who he/she/they are and what qualifications they actually have to execute a competent translation. In any case, they miss all sorts of subtleties from what I can see glancing at the first few chapters of Genesis and their renderings of vav conversives/consecutives with historic present tenses and "perfects" straight across into English as such (and this not even consistently) reflect a profound ignorance of the Hebrew verbal system and what is going on syntactically. This post is long enough as it is so I will provide examples of their mistakes and inconsistencies in another post... later today (if I have time), but (more likely) this weekend.

Kind regards,
Jonathan


Works Cited:
Abegg, Martin Jr. et al. The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible: The Oldest Known Bible Translated for the First Time into English. HarperSanFrancisco, 1999.
Carr, David M. The Formation of the Hebrew Bible: A New Reconstruction. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Martin, Gary D. Multiple Originals: New Approaches to Hebrew Bible Textual Criticism. SBL Text-Critical Studies 7. Society of Biblical Literature, 2010.
Metzger, Bruce M. and Bart D. Ehrman. The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration. Fourth Edition. Oxford University Press, 2005.
Miano, David. Shadow on the Steps: Time Measurement in Ancient Israel. SBL Resources for Biblical Study 64. Society of Biblical Literature, 2010.
Müller, Reinhard et al. Evidence of Editing: Growth and Change of Texts in the Hebrew Bible. SBL Resources for Biblical Study 75. Society of Biblical Literature, 2014.
Smith, Christian. The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture. Brazos Press, 2012.
Sparks, Kenton L. God's Word in Human Words: An Evangelical Appropriation of Critical Biblical Scholarship. Baker Academic, 2008.
Tov, Emanuel. Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible. Third Edition, Revised and Expanded. Fortress Press, 2012.
Wachtel, Klaus and Michael W. Holmes (eds). The Textual History of the Greek New Testament: Changing Views in Contemporary Research. SBL Text-Critical Studies 8. Society of Biblical Literature, 2011.
 

En Hakkore

Active member
Indeed, the LSV comes across with a slavishness one might expect from someone using an interlinear with a rudimentary knowledge of the languages. I have referred to "translator(s)" throughout as there is no transparency as to who he/she/they are and what qualifications they actually have to execute a competent translation. In any case, they miss all sorts of subtleties from what I can see glancing at the first few chapters of Genesis and their renderings of vav conversives/consecutives with historic present tenses and "perfects" straight across into English as such (and this not even consistently) reflect a profound ignorance of the Hebrew verbal system and what is going on syntactically. This post is long enough as it is so I will provide examples of their mistakes and inconsistencies in another post... later today (if I have time), but (more likely) this weekend.
I've had an external project come up that will take up a significant amount of my time. If anyone was waiting for the follow-up post on problem examples, please post your interest in response and I'll try to slot it in over the next couple of weeks. If no one is interested, I'll leave my critique as it stands and move on with other things...

Kind regards,
Jonathan
 
Top