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Matthew 28:19, 20 (Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…..)

Important Resources For The Bible Student (No.1)

June 2,2013

Important Resources For The Bible Student (No.1)

There are certain indispensable resources that every serious student of the Bible needs for the correct interpretation of the sacred writings. Why? Because there are words that need to be defined, concepts that need to be understood, and passages that need to be explained and applied for the spiritual well-being of the soul.

The first indispensable resource is an accurate translation of the
scriptures. Translations may be generally categorized as follows:

  • modified-literal,
  • idiomatic, and
  • paraphrase.

The modified-literal translations are those that follow the “word for word” approach when possible. They attempt to reflect closeness to the original text. They sometimes retain the word order of the Hebrew and Greek texts. This makes them difficult to read in many passages because Hebrew and Greek word order is not identical to English structure. Examples of the modified-literal translations are-

  • American Standard Version-1901;
  • Revised Standard Version-1971;
  • New American Standard Version-1995; and
  • English Standard Version-2011.

The idiomatic versions are those that seek to express the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek texts in modem understandable English. They try to be modified-literal when possible, but they do not hesitate to explain or “interpret” the text when necessary. All translations, even the “modified-literal” ones have some degree of translation. The idiomatic versions simply contain more “interpretation.” Why? Because their main point of focus is to enable the reader to read and understand the text in up to date English. Examples of idiomatic translations are-

  • New International Version-2011;
  • New Living Translation;
  • New Revised Standard Version-1989, and
  • Holman Christian Standard Bible-2009.

The paraphrases are generally expansions of the text in that they aim to “restate” passages in another way in order to clarify meaning. This is not necessarily or inherently a bad approach, though when they miss the meaning of a passage they usually miss it badly. It is like a blind hunter shooting where he thinks the rabbit is instead of shooting where the rabbit really is. Every translation contains some degree of paraphrase. Examples of paraphrases are-

  • The Living Bible;
  • The Contemporary English Version;
  • The New Century Version, and
  • The Message.

Occasionally, the paraphrases give a “fresh” or memorable “take” on a passage of scripture.

The serious student of the Bible should have at least one of each type of the aforementioned English translations. But a person’s main Bible should be one that is modified-literal for several reasons: they tend to be close to the Hebrew and Greek in form. Modified-literal versions are a good backbone for the Bible student. The ASV-1901 is probably the best of such versions. It is difficult to buy a new ASV because to my knowledge no major publisher sells it. For this reason the ESV and the NASB are good second choices. The NIV-2011 is probably the best of the idiomatic versions. It is eminently readable and generally accurate. The paraphrases are a tossup. Six for one and a half dozen of the others.

Ron Daly

For more teaching on crucial issues visit the following blogs:

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It Doesn’t Read Like My King James Version

January 27, 2013

It Doesn’t Read Like My King James Version

Recently, a dear sister in the Lord asked me, why modem English translations of the scriptures read differently than the King James Version in numerous places. It is an excellent question and it proceeded from a sincere heart. First, allow me to give a little background which will form the basis of my response.

The first Bible I was given after I obeyed the gospel was a King
James Version. I memorized many Old and New Testament passages from it, but I soon realized that it used a form of English that was archaic, awkward, and often difficult to understand. The kind of English spoken in this country is not the English of the King James Version. This is not to say that the King James is a bad translation, but it does mean that it makes God’s word more difficult to understand than it has to be.

God blessed me to begin the study of New Testament Greek in 1976, and I began the serious study of Hebrew in the early 1980’s. I soon learned that the “original” languages in which God’s word was spoken and written were among the languages common to the time. They were spoken in day to day commerce. They were not merely the languages of religious contexts. They were largely “common” languages of day to day communication. Since God gave his word in the languages of the people, shouldn’t scripture be translated in clear idiomatic ordinary English?

Some people think the King James Version is the word of God, and that any deviation from it is equal to adding to and taking from the scriptures.

The truth is, the King James was not the first English translation; it is not the only translation; and it is not the best translation. There is a sizable group of people in and out of the Lord’s body who are “King James Onlyists,” and they believe the religious world turns on the King James.

Yet, not even they speak King James English in their ordinary day to day conversations! For instance, in 2 Corinthians 8:1 the King James Version says, “Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia.” Notice the phrase “do you to wit.” Who speaks in such a way today? Do you understand the phrase as it stands in the text? Why or why not? The American Standard Version says “we make known to you.” The English Standard Version says, “We want you to know.” The New International Version-2011 says, “we want you to know.” Those translations have not added to or changed the word of God. They have simply made dear what the King James Version obscures. The archaisms in the King James Version can be multiplied. This doesn’t mean the KJV is totally incomprehensible, but it does mean that it has problems like all other versions. God’s Hebrew and Greek texts are perfect; translations of it are not because they are produced by men who are not guided by the Holy Spirit in their work.

Ron Daly

For more teaching on crucial issues visit the following blogs:

Remember our radio programs. We have a lot of listeners and
responses to the radio addresses are coming in quite frequently. Also remember to pray for and encourage our sick and shut-in.

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