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PASTOR'S POST  February 2018


People often ask me which version of the Bible I should read. My answer is, “I have my favorites, but the answer is just read a Bible.” That is to say, there are so many, but there are differences. Many Christians seem confused by the availability of so many different translations of the Bible. Christians of the past did not face so many choices. They had to learn the language of the King James, and if they could do it, why can't others? God has indeed marvelously blessed the King James translation over the centuries. But language changes—it does not remain static—and new translations are needed.

Originally the Bible was written in Hebrew (and some Aramaic) for the Old Testament, and Greek for the New Testament. It is a profound challenge—and responsibility—to translate Scripture into the native tongue of the reader in such a way we can understand what God has said. The first translation of the complete Bible into English was completed by John Wycliff in 1382, and now there are more different versions of English translations available than in any other language. For example, consider John 3:16 in the first English translation ever made, John Wyclif’s 14th-century version: “For God louede so the world, that he yaf his 'oon bigetun sone, that ech man that bileueth in him perische not, but haue euerlastynge lijf.”

This of course presents a considerable challenge when choosing a Bible. We want a translation that faithfully and accurately renders God's word in words that we can understand—regardless of our cultural background, reading level, or experience with the English language.

Some Bible translations are word for word and some are thought for thought.  We must never forget that the principal purpose of words is communication. Jesus Christ who is the incarnate Word of God looked and acted like a man of his time. In the same way, the written Word of God was inspired in the everyday languages of the people who first received it. In fact, with the discoveries of ancient documents, we now realize that New Testament Greek differs from the classical Greek because it was the common, somewhat simplified, dialect spread by the conquering Alexander the Great, about 323 B.C.

The presence of many good translations will keep any one of them from becoming dominant. That should ensure that Bible translating will continue. We want to clearly communicate to contemporary people what God revealed to the ancient readers of Hebrew and Greek millennia ago. We need to hear, to understand, and to obey his Word every bit as much now as people did then.

Translations I like best are The New International Version, the English Standard Version and the Revised Standard Version.

It is probably wise to have access to at least two or three of the major translations KJV (King James Version), NIV (New International Version), NAS (New American Standard), NKJV (New King James Version), ESV (English Standard Version), NLT (New Living Translation), for comparison's sake. If a verse or passage in one translation is a little confusing, it can be helpful to compare it side-by-side with another version. It is difficult to say which translation is the "best." "Best" would be determined by a combination of the translation method personally considered best and your interpretation of the textual data underlying your translation. For example, the KJV and NAS attempted to take the underlying Hebrew and Greek words and translate them into the closest corresponding English words as possible (word for word), while the NIV and NLT attempted to take the original thought that was being presented in Greek and Hebrew and then express that thought in English (thought for thought). Many of the other translations attempt to "meet in the middle" between those two methods. Paraphrases such as The Message or The Living Bible can be used to gain a different perspective on the meaning of a verse, but they should not be used as a primary Bible translation.

To get an idea of the different translations go on the internet and read John 3:16 from three versions.


Pastor

 

COMING IN SEPTEMBER 2018—CONFIRMATION CLASSES WITH THE PASTOR—For more information, speak with Pastor or call the church office. Classes are for baptized youth to learn what it means to be a Lutheran Christian and to become full members of the congregation.