Dr James Tabor has released a sample from the forthcoming Transparent English Bible, a longstanding project that dates back to a proposal by Ernest Martin. If you fancy literal translations, this may appeal to you. The first few chapters of Genesis are available as a PDF document.
Tabor expresses his preference for literal translations in a blog entry, even recommending the long-forgotten 1901 ASV, and opting for the 1950s RSV over the NRSV. To each their own.
What you can say is that the proposed TEB is different. With the proliferation of dumbed-down "easy to understand" versions (which distort the not-so-easy-to-understand realities of the manuscripts) this version will certainly stand out. This is a long, long way from the feel-good babblings of the Good News Bible or the CEV.
A couple of "buts". The TEB has reached this stage of development before, with substantial excerpts pre-published online (including the first chapters of Genesis, if memory serves.) For whatever reason the project was then rebooted and the initial work apparently withdrawn.
Second, if an important quality of a good English translation involves being able to be read aloud, then this may be the TEB's Achilles heel. Scripture has only been the object of personal, silent reading in relatively recent times. In synagogue and church the Bible has always been read aloud, reflecting the reality of our largely illiterate forebears. Arguably these books were written to be read aloud rather than pored over by individuals - that's how it was supposed to happen when they were first set down. By this criteria TEB looks shaky. Try rolling this text off the tongue:
These are the bringings-forth of the skies and the land in their being created. In the day of the making of YHVH ELOHIM, land and skies, and no shrub of the field was before that on the land, and no plant of the field had before that sprouted - for YHVH ELOHIM had not made rain on the land, and there was no soil-man to service the soil (2: 4-5)
This may be true to the Hebrew, but it's not the way lucid English works. That said, the Tabor Bible may - assuming it finally reaches completion - fill an important void in the market, perhaps supplanting the simply awful NASB and kindred travesties. It's certainly a project worth following, and I'd wager a thousand percent more worthy than the KJVish Coulter translation, due for release (both Old and New Testaments) very shortly.
Meantime I'll be sticking to the NRSV.
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