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Nathan Knowler

Investigating the Passion Translation of the Bible

Over the last few years, I’ve heard a fair bit of buzz about the Passion Translation of the Bible. There have been varying opinions about TPT. I have friends who love it and I have other friends who speak of it as if it should be burned. I happen to own a copy of the New Testament (which includes the Psalms, Proverbs, and Song of Songs) and the Book of Isaiah. I figure I ought to investigate it myself. I’ll present my findings here. For now this is mostly point form and there are some questions I have throughout (some could seem obvious — I’m just being meticulous).

Mike Winger’s "Passion Project" videos were very helpful. I particularly found the interviews he did with a number of respected biblical scholars to provide a well executed critique to the translation. The consensus seemed to be that it functions more like a paraphrase than a translation (Douglas Moo doesn’t like the dichotomy in general, which I found interesting and agreeable) and it is not all bad, however, there is enough bad to be concerned (bad is not adequately descriptive language, I will update this on further revisions). The primacy given to the Aramaic seems to be one major flaw. That whole hypothesis just doesn’t make sense, especially given the audience of a large number of New Testament letters. One of the other concerns is how the thing is being marketed. Watching videos of how the whole TPT has been presented, especially to lay audiences who don’t know any better, is so astonishing that I’m inclined to call it spiritual abuse. At the end of the day it seems like TPT is a mediocre translation (or paraphrase if that’s the category it fits in for you) which seems to be a result of a number of quite foundational flaws in its translation philosophy.