What is Wrong with the NRSV Bible?

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The NRSV Bible, or the New Revised Standard Version Bible, has been a subject of criticism and concern among readers and scholars alike. While it remains a popular Bible translation, there are apparent problems with the NRSV Bible that have caught people’s attention.

In this article, we will explore the translation issues, criticisms of scholars and readers, and identified shortcomings of the NRSV Bible. We aim to gain a deeper understanding of what is wrong with this Bible translation.

Key Takeaways

  • The NRSV Bible faces several criticisms from readers and scholars alike
  • Translation issues have been identified in the NRSV Bible
  • Critics have raised concerns about the accuracy and reliability of the translation
  • Some readers have identified specific shortcomings and drawbacks of the NRSV Bible
  • This article aims to explore, identify, and understand the problems with the NRSV Bible

Translation Issues in the NRSV Bible

The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) Bible is a popular translation used by many Christians worldwide. While it has been praised for its inclusivity and readability, there are also concerns surrounding some of the translation choices made.

One of the main issues with the NRSV translation is its inconsistent use of gender-neutral language. While the use of gender-neutral pronouns can be helpful in promoting inclusivity, the NRSV has been criticized for using gender-neutral language inconsistently, which can lead to confusion when reading certain passages.

Another issue with the NRSV Bible is its use of idiomatic phrases and colloquialisms, which can obscure the meaning of the text for those not familiar with the particular language used. This can be particularly problematic for readers who are not native speakers of English, or for those who are reading the Bible in translation for the first time.

Furthermore, some scholars have raised concerns about the NRSV’s reliance on certain textual traditions, which may not accurately reflect the original manuscripts, leading to potential inaccuracies in the translation. For example, some scholars have criticized the use of the Masoretic Text as the basis for the Old Testament translation in the NRSV, arguing that this text may not be the most accurate representation of the original Hebrew manuscripts.

In summary, while the NRSV Bible has its strengths, particularly in terms of its inclusivity and readability, there are also valid concerns surrounding its translation choices. From inconsistent use of gender-neutral language to reliance on potentially inaccurate textual traditions, these issues are worth considering when choosing a Bible translation.

Criticisms from Scholars

Many scholars have raised concerns about the NRSV Bible. One main issue is the use of gender-inclusive language, which is seen by some as a departure from the original text. The NRSV translation committee argued that this decision was necessary to make the text more accessible and inclusive. However, critics argue that this approach undermines the integrity of the original text.

In addition to the issue of gender-inclusive language, some scholars have questioned the accuracy of the NRSV translation. For example, the use of the word “young woman” instead of “virgin” in Isaiah 7:14 has been a subject of criticism. Critics argue that this translation choice is not faithful to the original text and misses the prophetic nature of the passage.

Other scholars have raised concerns about the theological biases of the NRSV translation committee. For example, the use of the phrase “son of man” instead of “human being” in Ezekiel 2:1 has been criticized for emphasizing the divinity of Jesus rather than his humanity. These concerns reflect the ongoing debate surrounding the role of theological tradition in Bible translation.

Criticisms from Readers

Many readers have expressed concerns about the accuracy and tone of the NRSV Bible. One common criticism is that the translation can be overly inclusive and politically correct, which can sometimes detract from the meaning of the text. Some readers have also noted that the use of gender-neutral language can be confusing in certain contexts, making it difficult to follow along with the narrative.

Others have pointed out issues with the use of archaic language and difficult-to-understand phrasing, which can make it challenging to engage with the text and fully comprehend its meaning. Additionally, some readers have raised concerns about the editing and formatting of the NRSV Bible, which can be inconsistent and difficult to navigate.

“I have found the NRSV Bible to be convoluted and unclear at times, which can detract from the overall reading experience.

Despite these criticisms, some readers appreciate the inclusive language and nuanced translations offered by the NRSV Bible. However, for those who prioritize accuracy and readability, these concerns may serve as significant drawbacks to choosing this particular translation.

Shortcomings of the NRSV Bible

The NRSV Bible has been subject to a number of criticisms from both scholars and readers, which have highlighted certain limitations and deficiencies in this particular translation.

Obscurity of Language

One of the primary criticisms of the NRSV Bible is the obscurity of its language, which has been identified as a major limiting factor for readers. The translation often uses archaic phrasing and complex sentence structures, which can make it difficult for modern readers to understand and engage with the text.

Inadequate Gender-Inclusive Language

Another key concern raised by scholars and readers is the inadequate use of gender-inclusive language in the NRSV Bible. This has been criticized for being too limited in its scope, failing to fully address issues of gender bias and inequality in the text.

Translation Choices

Some criticisms have been raised regarding the translation choices made in the NRSV Bible, particularly in relation to certain passages and verses. These choices have been seen to potentially impact the accuracy and reliability of the translation, with some scholars arguing that they may introduce errors or distortions to the original text.

Limited Accessibility

Finally, the NRSV Bible has been criticized for its limited accessibility, with some readers finding it difficult to engage with the text due to its complex language and lack of clarity. This may limit its overall usefulness and appeal for some readers, particularly those looking for a translation that is more accessible and easy to understand.


In conclusion, it is clear that there are concerns and criticisms surrounding the NRSV Bible. The translation issues and identified shortcomings have led to questions about its accuracy and reliability. Critics from both scholars and readers have raised concerns about the NRSV Bible, which may impact its overall usefulness and appeal. While it is still a widely used translation, it is essential to consider these concerns carefully when choosing a Bible for study and reflection. As we have seen, what is wrong with the NRSV Bible is a complex issue that requires a closer examination of the translation, its context, and its intended audience.

Therefore, we recommend that readers approach the NRSV Bible with an open mind and a critical eye, taking into account its strengths and weaknesses. By doing so, they can gain a deeper understanding of the biblical text and its meaning, while also acknowledging the limitations of any translation. Ultimately, the goal should be to find a translation that is accurate, reliable, and accessible, allowing readers to engage with the Bible on their own terms and in their own way.

So, while the NRSV Bible may not be perfect, it still has a valuable role to play in the world of biblical translation and scholarship. As long as readers are aware of its limitations and willing to engage with it critically, they can still benefit from the insights and wisdom it offers.


What are some of the translation issues in the NRSV Bible?

The NRSV Bible has been criticized for its translation choices, particularly in regards to gender-inclusive language. Some argue that the use of inclusive terminology can alter the original meaning of certain biblical texts.

What are the main criticisms raised by scholars regarding the NRSV Bible?

Scholars have expressed concerns about the NRSV Bible’s accuracy and reliability. They have questioned the translation choices, highlighting potential biases or inaccuracies that may affect the interpretation of the biblical texts.

What are the criticisms from readers about the NRSV Bible?

Readers have voiced various concerns about the NRSV Bible, including its readability, linguistic style, and perceived lack of reverence. Some readers prefer other translations that they believe better capture the essence and tone of the original biblical texts.

What are the specific shortcomings of the NRSV Bible?

Some scholars and readers have identified certain shortcomings of the NRSV Bible, such as inconsistent language choices and a perceived lack of clarity in certain passages. Additionally, some argue that the NRSV Bible’s attempts at inclusivity may compromise the accuracy and integrity of the original text.

What is considered wrong with the NRSV Bible?

The concerns surrounding the NRSV Bible revolve around its translation issues, criticisms from scholars and readers, as well as the identified shortcomings. These factors have led to debates about the accuracy, reliability, and overall usefulness of this particular Bible translation.

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