If there ever was a title that will make Christians read a post, this is it! Heart rates are going up, blood pressure is increasing as readers get ready to, for the first time ever, find out if their translation is the only translation that Jesus would read, that God would promote and that the Holy Spirit has truly inspired. I know some of you are tempted to skim the post so that you can save time and find the answer. Don’t do it! I put a lot of work into writing this post and I would appreciate you reading all the words. I really have no other reason to ask you to avoid skimming the post other than I hate the fact that I can work hard to create the right combinations of words only to find out no one actually reads them all!
The Bible was not originally written in English.
The way people argue over which translation is the right translation, you would think that Jesus spoke English. Some argue like it was Shakespearian English that graced the original scrolls containing the Psalms. Others consider Jesus’ “common man” communication style could only be a more modern type of English. Others aren’t sure what type of English the Bible was written in but they assume that it was the one they have memorized, after all if it is written on their heart it must be from God. Let’s face it, we were all happy when the original English version of the Bible, whatever type of English it was, was finally translated into Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew!
Ask any first year Bible college student what translation is best…
… and they will tell you, “the one closest to the original language. Hebrew for the Old Testament and Greek for the New Testament.” Many proudly carry around their word for word Bible translations but as the Bible says, “Pride comes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” or “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” or ” Pride precedes a disaster, and an arrogant attitude precedes a fall” Proverbs 16:18 NIV Proverbs 16:18 KJV Proverbs 16:18 GW. Trust me if you read a word for word translation of the Bible from the original language to English you will most likely have some sort of disaster and fall down because the brain will be overloaded trying to figure out what this disjointed mishmash of words in what appears to be no particular order actually means.
I love the King James Version of the Bible…
…when I read the Psalms. The old English style seems to match the poetic nature of this part of the Bible. I use an online version of the NET Bible when I do my daily devotions because there are notes that explain why they chose to translate a word or phrase a certain way and the alternatives that could also be correct along with historical context that could influence the way we need to view the passage. I will sometimes use paraphrase versions of the Bible like The Message for a more natural flow to parables and to some of the letters in the New Testament especially when preaching. In my blog post and the majority of my preaching I use the NIV as it is the Bible that most people own and the translation that seems to find a way to use every day English while sticking to the original meaning as much as possible. Aren’t you glad you didn’t skim though this? You just learned that I use a bunch of translations meaning you are probably upset that the title of this blog suggested that I was going to point you to the “right translation” of the Bible.
If you are truly interested in going deeper…
…you will need many translations and if you are truly committed to this adventure it wouldn’t hurt to read some commentaries as well. I have been using Bible Gateway because it allows me to compare English translations on one page. It offers commentaries and study tools and of course because it is online, I can search key words. I like that it has it all and it is easy to use. It is a great resource although I have to admit, when it comes to preaching, I use the old school soft cover leather Bible to read from. I know that makes me sound like an old man but there is something about the feel of an open Bible in the palm of your hand and the thin paper pages between your fingers when you turn the page. Of course when I use multiple translations I don’t use multiple Bibles, that would be ridiculous, I just copy and paste the verses into my sermon notes from BibleGateway.com.
And now the moment you have all been waiting for!
Which translation of the Bible is the right one? The one that translates into a changed life that lives for God and God alone! I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11 (NIV)