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The new Danish Bible: Thoughts and reflections

The last week several Israeli media have sent out news regarding the new Danish Bible translation from 2020. Most of them are critical and some are untrue. Arne Pedersen, CEO in the Danish Israel Mission, states his thoughts about the new translation here. It is in English so that our Israeli friends will be able to read along.

In my personal opinion I believe that the translation of the Bible2020 is good and easy to read. The Danish Bible Society has been very clear all the way that this is a Bible for readers who would like to begin reading the Bible where the authorized version is too heavy. In Denmark we have a translation that is authorized by the Queen, and the authorized version is the one we use in the state church. So this translation is meant to be a more easy read version than the authorized one. It is a bit like Eugene Peterson’s “The Message” (and I know that there are very different opinions on that ‘translation’ as well) although it is not as interpretative as The Message. This is not a translation meant for neither synagogue nor church. It is not meant for studying or research. It is a translation that focuses on the Biblical story and narration. I believe that if you read this translation on its own terms it is good and I certainly think the translation will get more people – especially young people – encouraged to start reading the Bible.

Does this mean that nuances, richness and theological depth is lost at times? Certainly – but at its core it is faithful to the meaning of the text.

So the first thing is the context for the translation – that is important.

On the substance of the debate David Serner who is pastor at the Danish church in Jerusalem has studied the translation extensively and his conclusion is the following:

  • this translation fundamentally confirms the continued connection between the Jewish people and the land
  • the translation confirms that the Jewish people is the chosen people of God
  • the translation is not a tool for replacement theology
  • the translation is not anti-semitic or anti-zionistic

I would especially like to warn against calling this translation anti-semitic or being against Israel as a nation. In part because I do not think there is any substance or reason for doing so, and in part because if we cry “Wolf!” for no reason – there is an even greater danger that we will not be heard when there is actual danger at stake.

All of the above should of course not hinder us at criticizing the translation where criticism is due. But overall – this translation proclaims the Gospel of the crucified and risen Messiah who invites and calls all of us into a relationship with him where he transforms us into new beings. I truly believe that this translation will be a tool in the hands of the Spirit to meet new people with this fantastic message all over Denmark.

Arne Pedersen, CEO, Danish Israel Mission

Do you want to read more? Read the statement from the Danish Bible Society here.