Emerson Ave Church of Christ

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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Answering A Few Questions

February 26, 2012

Answering A Few Questions

I have been asked to address the following questions. The New Testament teaches us to be prepared to respond to those who ask why we believe what we believe, and we should do so in a way that is respectful and bold. (Col. 4:6; 1 Pet. 3:15) People ask religious questions because they want to know what the Bible teaches.
First, I have been asked if it is more effective to study the Bible itself, or to use workbooks requiring the “fill in the blank” method of study? The answer depends on what a person desires to accomplish. If an individual wants to learn the scriptures, then pick up the Bible and study it.

If you want to do it the easy way, without acquiring a lasting knowledge of God’s word, then the “fill in the blank” method remains unexcelled.

I believe picking up the Bible and turning its pages and diligently studying it remains the most effective way of study. Jesus told the Jews, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life.” (John 5:39, NIV-2011) Luke said,

“Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts 17:11)

It is not necessarily wrong to use class books, and other such “aids” to Bible study, but it seems to me that just putting the Bible in hand and studying the text as it stands enables a person to learn the Bible.
Second, I was asked to address the technique that is most useful in understanding the meaning of God’s word. The first thing that the student must decide is which translations to use. Yes, I used the plural word “translations.” If at all possible, always study from more than one version of the Bible. When you only use one, generally speaking, you lock yourself into the possible weaknesses of that version.

Your “main” Bible should be one of the more modified-literal texts (ESV, ASV, NASB are examples of such).

They will tend to reflect the form of the Hebrew and Greek texts.
These kinds of translations are sometimes difficult to read, but they are good study Bibles.

The second type of version should be what is called an idiomatic rendering of the text. This will be in current English form and understandable. (NIV, HCSB, and NIV-2011) are examples of idiomatic translations.

I know of preachers and elders who frown upon the use of such versions, but in my judgment, they are denying brothers and sisters great opportunities to learn the scriptures.

The third type of translation that is useful for studying the scriptures is what I call a “mediating” text. This means it fits somewhere between the more literal ones and the more idiomatic texts. (NRSV, and even the ESV and HCSB are examples of such).

It is also important to have a concordance, up to date accurate
dictionaries to define the words of Scripture, and even a good set of biblical encyclopedias. A person can learn a lot of scripture if they will diligently use the references I have mentioned. A person who has a shelf full of study tools he never uses is like a person who calls himself a painter, yet never picks up a can of paint or a brush! The right kind of commentaries are also useful if they are used with caution.
Ron Daly

Remember our two radio programs: WBRI (1500 AM) on
Sunday evenings at 4:15 PM and Worldwide Radio WINB
at WINB.Com on Monday evenings at 5:30 PM. According
to the amount of feedback received, both radio programs
are blessed to accomplish a lot of good for the Cause. To
God be the glory!

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A Variety of Important Announcements

April 17, 2011

A Variety of Important Announcements

In this week’s bulletin, we will record several very important
announcements that should be edifying to the entire congregation. Generally I focus on a short teaching article, but this week an exception will be made.

1) There is a change to the weekly radio program. The time
of our program called The Bible Is Right as of today has been
changed 4:15 to 4:30 PM on Sunday afternoon. The original
time was 7:15 to 7:30 AM and that presented a problem. The tower was not allowed to operate at full power by the FCC that time of morning. As the result, the range and direction of the signal was not adequate enough to reach a large number of potential listeners. It is now different because we will be operating at full power with every broadcast. I believe the new time is much better. People will be out of morning service, finished with lunch, and when the 15 minutes’ program ends, we will have 30 minutes before our evening assembly gathers.
Inform people about the radio program. WBRI 1500 AM dial.

2) We as a congregation are still rejoicing over the addition of Vau (pronounced Vah, with a long “a”) Washington to the spiritual family of God. Last Sunday Vau was immersed into Christ just as the New Testament teaches. (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Acts 10:48; 1 Peter 3:21) When he was immersed he entered the kingdom of God just as the New Testament teaches, and all of his past sins were forgiven. (John 3:3-5; 1 Corinthians 12: 13) What a glorious time! We welcome him in the love of Christ!           Update….….More great news!! Vau’s wife, Shavetta, was also immersed into Christ on Tuesday April 19th. We pray they grow and serve our Lord the Christ, for as long as they live.

3) I also try to keep the congregation abreast of any new or revised credible translations of the English Bible. We have members who use the New International Version of the Bible. In March of this year (just a few weeks ago) Zondervan Publishers of Grand Rapids, Michigan released the print edition of the NIV 2011. I have not read the entire translation, but I have looked at parts of it, and I can say, according to what I have seen, it is a marked improvement over the 1984 revision of the NIV. The translators appear to have done a good job correcting some of the errors in the original edition. They have also attempted to give the reading public a gender accurate text. As an example, instead of using the word “brothers” when an entire congregation is addressed, they use the phrase, “brothers and sisters.” Such translation is accurate! (I have a recent post on one of my internet blogs about this very thing.) I realize that the NIV (as well as all other English translations) has been criticized, but it is my studied conviction that the NIV 2011 is a useful Bible, and a person can learn what to do to be saved if he will study it diligently.

Ron Daly


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