Has this ever happened to you?
You go to pull out your trusty bible, and somehow it has been replaced with an imposter? Instead of your trusty King James Version, you’ve been slipped a New American Standard Bible. Or the Good News Translation. Or some slick new looking version, like the Common English Bible?
No, your Christian standing is not on the line. No, you have not compromised your salvation. It may look a little different, but yes, it’s still The Bible. My two words of advice? Keep reading.
Think about this: Wouldn’t it be great to go back in time and read the Original? The first ever, authoritative version of the Bible. That would be cool, but remember, you’d have to be able to read Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic, as those were the languages the scriptures were written in.
Even then, you’d never be able to track down THE original. There’s not one copy of The Bible out there with God’s signature on the title page, listed as #1 of 100,000,000. The Bible is a collection of scrolls and letters, written down over hundreds of years, and they weren’t organized in this final form until long past the resurrection. Even the most ancient scrolls have tiny differences from one another. So…
There is not one manuscript out there, under glass like the Declaration of Independence at the Library of Congress.. In fact, the opposite is the case: Today there are probably more versions of the Bible out there than you’ve ever imagined. Wikikpedia says “at least some portions of the Bible have been translated into 3,415 languages,” and there are are at least 750 English translations alone.
Does that mean any ole translation will do?
Well, in a sense, probably so. Every version was created to help its readers receive the Word, but they tackle that task in different ways. Some versions try for an exact translation of every word from the original languages. Others try to translate each complete thought so that modern readers can best understand and study. Still others try to paraphrase the whole meaning in contemporary language to convey the truth, if not the exact wording of the sources.
When I reach for the Bible, I tend to pick up the NIV, NRSV, CEB and occasionally The Message. That helps me keep a well-rounded approach to what I read. The more I study the scriptures, the more I see the value of mixing it up.
Which translation is your favorite? You can check out Bible Translation Comparison • Bible Reviewer or similar sites to see how they compare.
I can pretty much guarantee your translation is doing it’s job, transmitting the Word of God through the page and into you. But don’t be afraid to look at other Bibles too.
That “imposter” version you grabbed accidentally?
It could be more like a long lost friend.
Have a great week,