Bible versions graph (first draft)

I am in the process of creating a graph of English Bible versions, plotted beside a timeline, with ancestor/revision links and detailed information about each version. I did the research myself, adding the information to a spreadsheet. I then saved the spreadsheet as CSV, wrote a Ruby script to generate DOT files from the CSV, and a bash script to run the whole thing and produce PDF files. It’s not finished yet, but I wanted to post my progress so far.

Bible Versions Graph (picture)

For each version, I have built a short profile that includes the following information:

  • Abbreviation
  • Full name
  • Dates of publication (NT only/OT & NT/Apocrypha)
  • Type of translation: formal/literal, functional/idiomatic, both, or paraphrase
  • Short summary
  • Longer description
  • Responsible individuals and groups
  • Copyright status and free availability

Also, I’d like to see if anyone is interested in helping with the editing and researching. I know there are some details that I haven’t been able to fill in yet, and I still have a long list of versions to add. I’m trying to keep the commentary and descriptions as neutral and objective as possible, identifying translation biases without criticizing them. The graph so far mostly contains traditional Protestant versions since that’s my background, but I’ll be adding more Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Jewish, and internet-based versions in the future. If you would like to help in research or editing, let me know and maybe we can work together.

There are two versions of the graph: the full version that contains all the information, and an abbreviated version that omits the last three items listed above to achieve a more compact diagram. Here are the download links for both:

Please send me your comments, suggestions, criticisms, and contributions. I’ll be posting future versions on this blog as I improve it.

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2 Responses to Bible versions graph (first draft)

  1. rockalizer says:

    This is a great diagram you have here. I’d like to help you out with your research if there is anything I can do. By the way, which one do you find most appealing to you? Of course, I have been used to NIV, but I heard ESV is pretty good now. It’s freely available too online in many forms.

  2. Michael says:

    I have a list of more versions that I’d like to add when I get time. If you’re interested in filling in some of the details for these versions, send an email to arrow014 at this domain and I’ll forward you the list.

    I’m not sure which translation I find the most “appealing”, although the ESV is my recommendation at the moment for study use. It seems to be a solid formal translation, the publishers are fairly permissive in allowing smaller projects to use it (as you note), and it’s more readable than the NASB. However, I would caution folks to be aware of its conservative/PCA influences. Personally, I carry a NKJV in book form (reference edition with translation notes but no commentary) and use my iPod to access the ESV and commentaries. At some point I’d like to get an NRSV as well.

    What I’d really like to see is a “translation” that somehow expresses all major and minority renderings/interpretations of each word, phrase, or passage. It would be pointless to read out loud, but would be very interesting and useful for study, I think. Another project I have on the back burner is to work out a way of doing this with XML and HTML/CSS/JS. Obviously I don’t have the time to research and encode the entire Bible using such a system, but perhaps if I create the framework I can get some seminary students interested in providing the content. 🙂

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