Don't get bogged down in translation
Barry Watts, associate pastor, Lawrence Heights Christian Church, 2321 Peterson Road:
When selecting an appropriate Bible, one must consider what author and scholar Timothy Paul Jones said: "The Bible is inerrant in its inspiration, sufficient in its preservation, but it is dependent in its translation."
After all, 2 Timothy 3:16 states that "all Scripture is God-breathed." Before examining the differences between versions of the Bible, remember that these are "translations" and not the original Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek texts. Dissimilarities between them are not biblical contradictions, but differences in scholars' subjective opinions about the original meaning of the text.
Given this information, a person might ask how do we know which translation is "correct"? As you look at different translations you will find the truth of God's word is fully intact, but the way verses are structured can be quite different. When Jesus was confronted in Matthew 12:1-14 about healing people on the Jewish Sabbath, his response displays this concept. The Pharisees were getting preoccupied with the legalistic details and losing sight of the real meaning of God's Word.
In-depth biblical study is an important part of the Christian walk and understanding of God's will. Study with diligence, but beware of the danger of preoccupation with details of translator's opinions and views. Instead, focus on the underlying and central meaning of the Scriptures.
In conclusion, my recommendation would be, if resources permit, to own more that one translation of the Bible. As you study certain verses and chapters, compare different versions to see how the translators interpreted the manuscripts in the original languages. Whether you are reading the New International Version, New American Standard Bible, King James Version, English Standard Version or another translation, enjoy the eternal truth of God's Word.
- Send e-mail to Barry Watts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sample options to find your favorite
The Rev. Andrew Mitchell, pastor, Stull United Methodist Church, 251 N. 1600 Road:
Listing the Bibles available today is like reciting shrimp recipes to Forrest Gump: study Bibles, devotion Bibles, life application Bibles, "his" and "hers" Bibles, Bibles for business leaders.
What's your leisure? You can find Bibles geared toward hunters, gardeners, armchair archaeologists, aspiring rock stars and perspiring jock stars. There are even Bibles for brides and baby boomers. There are Bibles packaged like teen fashion magazines (complete with beauty tips and love letters from God).
While I don't necessarily find it sacrilegious for the Bible to be marketed in such ways, I am rather wary about how footnotes and sidebars in these editions tend to persuade one's interpretation of the biblical text. Unfortunately, readers too often confuse the editorial commentary with biblical authority.
When it comes to choosing a Bible translation, there are three general types: word-for-word, concept-for-concept and paraphrases. Let's compare by looking at the second-most-repeated command throughout the New Testament: "Greet one another with a holy kiss." This word-for-word translation of Romans 16:16 is rendered in one concept-for-concept translation as "greet each other in Christian love," while paraphrased in others as "give one another a hearty handshake" and "holy embraces all around!"
Selecting a Bible should not simply be based on how well you like a particular translation. Paraphrases tend to be more enjoyable to read, yet they are also heavily shaped by an editor. Word-for-word and concept-for-concept translations better convey the meaning of the Bible's original languages.
My advice? Get one of each type and read them together. Noting similarities, differences and varied shades of meaning, you'll find mere words conspiring to reveal God's inspired Word.
- Send e-mail to Andrew Mitchell at email@example.com.