Aug 3, 2008

Quick Study of Bible Translations

Since it has been brought to my attention that a few people don't know why I was looking for a new Bible, because some people believe that a Bible is simply just a Bible, any one will do...I thought I'd point out a few different things.

First off, the Bible is not simply just THE Bible. There is actually a difference between Catholic and Protestant Bibles. The main difference is that the Catholic Bible has extra books not found in the Protestant Bible. These books are known as the Apocrypha books. For various reasons these books are not considered Scripture, but can still be beneficial to readers. They are just not the inspired word of God.

Since I'm Protestant, I'll focus a little more on common Protestant Bibles.

The first thing to keep in mind is that the Bible was written by many different authors over many centuries, and yet they all flow together and were all inspired by the Holy Spirit. That's one of the main reasons we know that the Bible is the inspired word of God. The Bible was written in three languages: Hebrew, Greek, and a small bit of Aramaic (the Book of Daniel). We do not have ANY of the original texts; all we have are copies and translations. From the sheer multitude of versions we have, we are able to determine exactly what the originals said; there might be some variations, but if we have 3 manuscripts, and 2 agree, odds are the original was in line with those 2.

There have been various "authoritative" texts throughout time, such as the Latin Vulgate and others. Jesus himself used a translation and not the original texts. He used the commonly accepted Scriptures at the time. In the last few hundred years, we have our own translations of the original texts. I'm going to go over a few of them, but not all.

King James Version. Some would call this the "Authorized" version...all that means is that King James authorized it's translation way back in 1611. Jesus didn't authorize this version, just some English monarch. Many will claim that the King James is the only Bible worth reading, that all other versions are demonic and heretical. The funny thing that these people don't realize is that the KJV they are reading is the 11th or 12th version; the original original sounded more like Shakespeare.

When it comes to the KJV, I have a hard time accepting KJV Only people as Christians. That might be a hold over from the days I was surrounded by legalistic people, but I still have my doubts. I respect people who prefer it over other translations, but the instance they start saying that it is the ONLY inspired word of God, I just have to laugh at them.

Funny cartoon about it.

New King James Version. I have not read this one extensively, but it reads very similar to the KJV but without all the "thees" and "thous". Still pretty high English and hard to read at times, though. Expect to be doing your own translations on the fly for this one.

New Internation Version. This is the version I read the most growing up, this and the KJV; KJV was at church and school, and the NIV was what I read at home. Very readable, it's been the favorite of many over the years, yet it also is one of the more controversial for various reasons.

The Living Bible. A paraphase, this is not a translation of the Bible. It is similar to The Message, in that someone is trying get thoughts and ideas across; saying what Jesus meant to say rather than what Jesus really said, for example.

The New Living Bible. This is actually a true translation that reads similar to the Living Bible or The Message, but is closer to the originals. Very readable, it's a great translation for devotions, but not really suited for traditional Bible study.

New Revised Standard Version. Sometimes hailed as the "Gender Neutral Bible", this one is 'free from man-made theological viewpoints', as my professor used to say. I like to call this the "liberal Bible" because of the many liberal theologians that perfer it. It's a VERY literal translation, very wooden, hard to understand at times.

English Standard Version. The latest translation on this list, this is the Bible I have decided to start reading extensively from the most. It's a very readable translation, and also the most faithful to the originals that also try to utilize all modern English. It's not awkward to read at all, I'm really enjoying it!

So that's a brief reason why looking for a new Bible is a complicated affair. Not only do you need to choose what translation you want, but you have to look for different features too, such as a concordance, illustrations, maps, etc.

Hence, I decided to get a ESV Study Bible. It's on order and will be delivered to me when printed. Here's a link, I believe I ordered the ESV Literary Study Bible.

Any questions? I could talk more at length on this subject, this was the bare minimum.

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