The Bible… So Many Choices!

dusty BibleA few weeks ago, I promised that I would discuss the topic of selecting a Bible. Well, it was superseded by an article about a current event involving the Charlie Hebdo debacle. My apologies….

Getting back to the article about the movie Exodus:Gods and Kings, I talked about how people take information from all around to formulate a worldview in their search for the truth. I also talked about how a Bible can positively influence our decisions. I also promised to address how to select a new Bible that will be helpful in our pursuit of the truth. Not all Bibles are the same… as we shall soon see!

Bibles that are in English (or any other language other than the languages in which the Bible was originally written) are called “translations.” Unless you want to learn Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic, you will probably have to rely upon a translation. Generally, translators work diligently in an attempt to convey the original meaning of the authors. It is a difficult task when the understanding of a passage can be affected by cultural differences, idiomatic phrases that don’t translate well, and yes, even the occasional mis-spelled word. The aims of a translator can also affect how the word of God is translated.

For instance some translations have a goal of being word for word literal in their translation. A good example of this type of translation is the New American Standard Bible. Authors have taken care to make sure that it reads well in English while remaining true to the original author’s meaning. Others such as the The Message Bible take pains at the opposite end of the scale to make their translation very readable by using modern phrases to convey meaning. The problem with this style is that sometimes the original meaning gets lost in the process. Yet other Bibles don’t even try to say they are a translation at all such as the Living Bible. I suggest a good place to start is somewhere in between. There are several good versions such as the English Standard Version (ESV) and the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). They stay pretty close to the original language while conveying good meaning in very readable English.

Other Bibles have very different goals in their “translation.” Just because someone drops a free Bible into your hands doesn’t mean it is good for your understanding of God or spiritual development. Some people will intentionally twist the meaning of some passages (usually not all passages) to promote either their own theology or agenda. They look just enough like the real thing to pull off deception.

An example of a Bible that promotes a theology is the New World Translation that a Jehovah’s Witness might hand to you. Run like the wind! Numerous key passages will be intentionally mis-translated by “enlightened prophets” to promote something called a Unitarian theology that reduces Jesus Christ to a mere mortal. I’ve examined a number of scriptural verses in both and there is no way (none, nada, zip!) that a first year Greek or Hebrew student would come to the same conclusion in their translation. Simply put, they are lying to you folks! That is not helpful in seeking the truth.

Another type of “Bible” that is floating around out there is called the Queen James Bible. (As he shakes his head…). This so-called Bible is designed to promote the Gay and Lesbian agenda. Believe it or not, it is simply the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible (Which is a translation of another translation of the Bible called the Latin Vulgate) that has had ten, count them, ten verses changed to support the idea that homosexuality is okay with God.. I’m pretty sure the “translators” (plagiarizers!) aren’t very well versed in translating any language since they didn’t even bother to translate the rest of their precious “bible.” This type of activity is prophesied by the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4:3 when he says “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (NIV84). Yikes! I think he is right on point. The “Queen James” version is presenting a lie about what the original inspired authors were trying to convey. And that, my friend, is opposite of the truth.

Another thing to consider in a quest for the appropriate Bible is in making a decision about which study Bible is right for you. A study Bible is a Bible that contains notes either in the margins, within, or at the bottom of the pages that help the reader discern the meaning of different passages. For instance, study notes in the New American Standard (NAS) will provide a perspective on Catholic theology. Yet other study Bibles will provide a perspective from the reformed tradition. I prefer a study Bible that provides a “free-will” view of our relationship with God. A study Bible that I prefer is called the Full Life Study Bible. It is a New International Version (1984) that has attempted to remain true to the original languages. (ISBN:9780310916932). Trust me there will be more on the differences between reformed and free-will theology in some future article. My computer is running out of ink today.

If you click on the “Resources” tab above, you will find a variety of places where you can find free Bibles online. The Bibles you can find in any of those links will be reasonably good choices. On a side note, the link will include commentaries which are a little like the notes in a study Bible. Android phone users can find free Bibles in the Playstore; and, iPhone users can find them in the App Store. However, the mobile apps need to be scrutinized for all the reasons I gave above. Besides, I really prefer the feel of a good book in my hands. Don’t you?

There are cases to be made for selecting any of the different versions of the Bible (Except the two mentioned above). I have my preferences and you will have yours. However, I would rather you have one in your hand that isn’t my favorite than to have none at all. I simply want to see you get hooked up into a right relationship with God. And the only way you can get to have a relationship with someone is to know about them. The Bible is one of the ways in which we learn to know about our God.

Until next time….






©2014 Casey O.Hooper

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