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I've been told by native Spanish speakers that the Reina-Valera Bible (even the 1960 edition) sounds old fashioned and stuffy. It's one of the reasons our pastor uses other translations.

But when I read the different versions of the Bible, I'm struck by how similar they sound. To me, the primary difference stems form the use of the vosotros verb form. From what I understand, this is a regional difference rather than an example of outdated language.

If there are other persistent differences, my Spanish isn't mature enough to detect them.

So is the Reina-Valera outdated or just representative of a dialect not often heard in the Americas?

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First, it's important to clarify that there are many different versions of the Reina-Valera Bible. The Wikipedia article explains that the first version was published in 1569, and there have been many versions since. However, when people talk about the RVR, they are generally referring to the 1960 version. Since 1960 there have been additional revisions (the RVR1995 and the Reina Valera Contemporánea), but as far as I know the 1960 version is still the most commonly used.

The RVR does have more than just regional differences. For example, in the notes for the Reina Valera Contemporánea, the translators explain five aspects that have been updated:

Orden sintáctico - Esta revisión respeta el orden sintáctico del castellano para que su lectura sea más fluida y natural.

Conserva los versículos alineados al margen izquierdo – Para facilitar el estudio de las Escrituras, y la búsqueda y memorización de versículos clave.

Actualización de palabras arcaicas o en desuso.

Revisión de términos y pasajes difíciles de comprender - Los textos complicados y difíciles de comprender que pueden llevar al lector a una errónea interpretación, han sido revisados para hacerlos más comprensibles.

Actualización de nombres propios al castellano moderno.

So according to them, the 1960 Reina-Valera has a less fluid syntactical order, words that are archaic or in disuse, passages that are difficult to understand or easy to misunderstand, and proper nouns that don't reflect modern usage.

The vosotros form is one noticeable difference from modern Latin American Spanish, but there are other major differences (for example, the use of the future subjunctive or archaic words).

One site I found has a very polemic tone but explains some aspects of the RVR versions that could be misleading or confusing to modern readers.

In my experience with Spanish Bibles, I've been told that the RVR corresponds to the KJV (majestic but archaic), the LBLA corresponds to the NASB or ESV (literal word-for-word translation philosophy), and the NVI corresponds to the NIV (more of a thought-for-thought translation philosophy). As just one comparison, see Matt. 6:34:

Así que, no os afanéis por el día de mañana, porque el día de mañana traerá su afán. Basta a cada día su propio mal. (RVR1960)

Por tanto, no os preocupéis por el día de mañana; porque el día de mañana se cuidará de sí mismo. Bástele a cada día sus propios problemas. (LBLA)

Por lo tanto, no se angustien por el mañana, el cual tendrá sus propios afanes. Cada día tiene ya sus problemas. (NVI)

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The comparison is very helpful. Maybe because I don't ever open them side-by-side I've never felt like one version reads better than the others. Mal really doesn't fit with the way I think of this passage. Problemas does. Thank you. –  Jon Ericson Jan 31 '12 at 23:38
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In fairness there are only a few future subjunctives in the RV60 - although I was quite surprised the first time I found one. And "polemic" is being generous to that site you link. The author rants about a Spanish translation not using the same loan-word from Latin that his preferred English translation uses, complains about it using a more common Spanish word which has another meaning he dislikes rather than a rarer Spanish word, complains about it translating more accurately than his preferred English translation... "Insane" would be a fair description. –  Peter Taylor Feb 2 '12 at 23:02

You'll find that "Ustedes" ,as used in Spanish Bible translations, is mostly a Latin Spanish American form of address. In modern Spanish as used in Spain "Vosotros" is the norm, at least in Bibles (also in day to day spoken Spanish) . There are some Bible versions which use the "Ustedes" form for Latin American versions and "Vosotros" in Spain (NIV and other versions cater for both forms according to the preferences of the readers).

In some Latin American countries they use "vos" as a singular form of address (which to Spanish people sounds archaic) but in Spain it is "tú". "Usted" and "ustedes" is used in most Spanish countries but in Spain it is a more formal way of address. Spanish Bibles using Spanish for Spanish people usually use de "tú" and "vosotros" form.

You can check Bible versions in Spanish on the Bible Gateway website, which has both Latin American versions and versions for Spain.

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Even though this is an old post i love chatting about the Spanish Bible

I agree with your analysis that alot of Spanish Bibles are translated using old Spanish vernacular or just the modern Castilian Spanish of Spain.

Bible Translation has to be approched different than just normal translations because you have to take into account the copies of the original text to remain true to the Word of God. From what i have seen alot of modern Spanish translations have abandonded the true text for a much older Egyptian origin texts.

I would recommend the RV 1602 Purified even though it uses the older Spanish vernacular it remains true to the Textus Receptus line of manuscripts which is based on the Majority Text which is a Byzantine Text-Type which has its origins among the original autographs which are the largest number of manuscripts that agree with one another versus the Critial Text line of manuscripts that has its origin in Egypt known as the Alexandrian Text-Type. It also differs from the Byzantine Text-Type in about 3000 places.

I have not found any Hispanic vernacular Bibles like the NBLH that are true to the Textus Receptus but use the Dead Sea Scrolls & Nestle Aland Novum Testamentum Graece.

I am working on a Spanish Bible translation that uses a Hispanic vernacular like ustedes son instead of vosotros sois and that is Textus Receptus based. If you want to help you can contact me at barry.b.smith AT gmail.com

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