There are, in addition to the standard translations of the Old Testament, many separate translations of the psalms. The usefulness of these is often very much a matter of personal choice or response. They may be very helpful, especially in one's devotional life. For more extensive interpretation, however, I would recommend the use of the standard translations such as Revised Standard Version (RSV), New English Bible (NEB), Jerusalem Bible (JB), New American Bible (NAB), the new Jewish Publication Society version (JPS), and Today's English Version (TEV, commonly known as The Good News Bible). I find it often helpful to use the RSV as my base translation, one that represents a fairly formal translation of the Hebrew text, and compare that with a more dynamic translation, such as TEV, to get another idea about how the thought of a line or verse may be expressed. For example, the line in Psalm 23 translated by RSV as, “thou anointest my head with oil,” is helpfully translated by TEV as “You treat me as an honored guest.” One translation points us to the actual practice of an ancient host. The other suggests what it means. The interpreter does not have to choose (though sometimes translation choices have to be made when there are true conflicts or misunderstandings); both translations are helpful.
A warning is in order about the use of translations. The proliferation of contemporary translations is not all blessing. One of its results is a tendency on the part of the interpreters to think that comparing more and more translations is helpful. It is not! There is a clear law of diminishing returns. Time is wasted as one searches several translations. Often information is collected, but it remains merely data, not useful. Choose a couple of translations that you know are generally reliable and of a somewhat different character, that is, one more formal or literal, one more dynamic, getting at the idea communicated. Where possible and necessary check them against the Hebrew or a commentary. Control of the Hebrew text is indeed helpful for getting at the meaning of a text. At the same
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Publication information: Book title: Interpreting the Psalms. Contributors: Patrick D. Miller - Author. Publisher: Fortress Press. Place of publication: Minneapolis. Publication year: 1986. Page number: 154.