Archive for Saturday, September 22, 2007

Faith Forum: What Bible is right for me?

September 22, 2007


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

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


PatKirk 8 years, 2 months ago

Online, Bible Gateway is great. If you have a question about a passage, you can look in as many Bibles as you want. You'll find that they pretty much say the same thing (in most cases - if one version is completely different, I would be careful of that version) but when you look at the different translations, sometimes it makes the passage clearer.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 8 years, 2 months ago

"In conclusion, my recommendation would be, if resources permit, to own more that one translation of the Bible."

If resources permit? How much is being charged for the Word of God, these days?

Tom McCune 8 years, 2 months ago

Rev. Barry:

It's not just a matter of translation. If you go back to the oldest manuscript versions of the Bible in the original Greek some contain the final verses of Mark and others do not. Some scholars believe those verses were added by later scribes to make Mark more similar to Matthew. This particular item is not just a minor little shade of meaning or an irrelevant detail. It is a completely different story of the central message depending on where Mark ends. No one knows with certainty what the original version of Mark said, since the earliest manuscript versions disagree.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 8 years, 2 months ago

Marion says: "If The Bible is 'God breathed,' God has very bad breath!"

Whoa, Marion... here, have a mint....

thusspokezarathustra 8 years, 2 months ago

Would the LJW just drop the pretense that this is a faith forum & rename it The Christian Corner. How many faith's are included in a question like "What Bible is right for me?"

Tandava 8 years, 2 months ago

One must know what, exactly, one is reading, especially where the Bible is concerned. One of the best, if not THE best, explanations of the Bible and how it came about is the book "Misquoting Jesus" (and a bunch of other books) by Bart Ehrman. Mr. Ehrman grew up right here in Lawrence, Kansas, had a "born again" experience, realized that Christianity was basically a religion OF THE BOOK, and went on to become one of the world's foremost experts on the New Testament and the life of Jesus. He learned Hebrew and ancient Greek just so he could read these texts in the original. He became an expert in textual criticism (basically the science of figuring out what is true and want is not and how the books of the Bible came about) (my definition of it). How many people go to this extent to discover the roots of their religion. Most priests and pastors have no clue how the books of the New Testament came into being, and no interest in finding out. "Misquoting Jesus" is intelligent and clear and objective, and should be required reading for anyone and everyone who claims to be (thinks they are) a Christian.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 8 years, 2 months ago

Marion posts: "The Lord's Prayer in Pidgin..."

And, for the rest of you Looney Toons, out there...

Ouw Fathew, which awt in Heaven, Hawwowed be thy Name. Dy Kingdom come. Dy wiww be done, in eawf as it is in Heaven, uh-hah-hah-hah. Give us this day ouw daiwy bwead. And fowgive us ouw twespasses, As we fowgive them that twespass against us. (Oh, dat scwewy wabbit!) And wead us not into temptation; But dewivew us fwom eviw. Fow thine is the kingdom, De powew, and the gwowy, Fow evew and evew. Amen, uh-hah-hah-hah.

hujiko 8 years, 2 months ago

which bible is best for me?

none of them

Bradley Menze 8 years, 2 months ago

My personal favorite is the English Standard Version,

Marion, I'm glad you found a translation you can appreciate.

quietgrace 8 years, 2 months ago

My favorite is the Today's New International Version. I've been a big fan of the New International Version for a while but I think Today's NIV is my latest favorite. I also love The Message. I didn't like the idea of Bible on tape until I heard "The Bible Experience". Now I'm starting to change my mind.

shockchalk 8 years, 2 months ago

I have been reading the NIV for the past 10 years but I recently have read from The Message and it is also very good.

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