Thought For The Week 15 April 2018
It’s certainly been a chilly week! I’m not sure that any of us were prepared for winter to bite just so early. As the days begin to close in, perhaps you’re getting into a bit more reading.
I had a person email me the other day and ask which translation of the Bible they should buy to read at home. The number of choices can be just overwhelming. Which is the most accurate? Which is the easiest to read and understand? Every Sunday we affirm “In this is the Word of God”, but which words can I trust?
As you know, the Bible is not so much a book as a library, ancient texts gathered together from many sources and revered as Scripture. Most of the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew. Very early on, even before the time of Christ, these scriptures were translated into Greek – the common language of the time. The New Testament was also written in Greek although Jesus himself spoke Aramaic. The Bible was translated into Latin and then, as fewer and fewer people spoke Latin, the Bible was translated into the emerging modern languages.
Today there are hundreds of translations of the Bible into English alone. Which one should we read? My first thought would be to say that most translations are very careful and faithful. If there is a translation that you prefer, then go for it!
At church we use the NIV (New International Version) which is modern in its language and an accurate translation. Other options include the CEV (Contemporary English Version) which, like the Good News, has a simplified vocabulary. The CEV is what we use for Bible in Schools. The NRSV (New Revised Standard Version) is quite scholarly in its language, and is often recommended at universities and the like. The NLT (New Living Translation) and the Message are both paraphrases of the Bible – the emphasis is on conveying the general meaning, rather than an exact translation. They can be quite refreshing to read and to use in worship as they bring fresh life to familiar passages, but they would not be recommended for serious Bible study.
There is a new paraphrase out at the moment called the Passion version which is very popular, but I would not recommend that as it adds words to the scripture in the hopes of emphasising the intended meaning, but anything like that inevitably introduces the author’s bias into the text.
I’d be happy to talk about any of this further with you. I can lend you several of these bibles if you want to try them for yourself, or you can compare a few on www.biblegateway.com