Tuesday, February 10, 2009


In conversations about scripture, the meaning of a Hebrew or Greek term, or questions about which English version is more accurate, will often come up. My common sense tells me that if God was able to inspire the people who wrote the scripture in its original languages, wouldn't he have been able to see to its accurate translation in various languages?

Some would answer this question by saying, "Yes, God transmitted the scripture into the English language through the King James Version only." I can't even begin to argue the errors with this idea in such a short post. Just Google King James Onlyism, and you'll see what I mean. Again, the common sense is telling me it just isn't so!

Others have found the English Standard Version to be their standard. It strives to balance accuracy with readability. I think that's what most English translations strive for. What about the Contemporary English Version, or other such translations, trying to appeal to readers of English as a second language, by translating the scripture using limited vocabulary?

My advice is use various versions. Pick one that's easy to read and memorize. Let it be your main version. It should be at least fairly accurate. ESV, NIV, HCSB, and NASB are all good versions, though the NASB boasts being more accurate than others. Find one, and stick to it.

For study, use as many versions as you can to get the fullest meaning of what a particular passage is saying! Let those insights from such versions as CEV, GW and NLT guide you into more and more truth. My computer setup is something like this:

First Page:

Second page:

My opinion is borrowed from the men who translated the King James Version. Have you ever checked out their preface to the KJV? Fascinating reading.

...we affirm and avow, that the very meanest translation of the Bible in English, set forth by men of our profession containeth the word of God, nay, is the word of God."

The "meanest", or poorest version, translated by professionals, is still the Word of God!

Fortunately, the Word of God in any language is able to tell the good news of peace through Jesus Christ. It's able to give us the basic Gospel, and it is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2Timothy 3:16). Better translations, like more refined gold, or more polished diamonds may give more sparkle, and deeper truths. But any version that contains the Gospel of Jesus Christ, already has everything we need for life and godliness!

So, which version should you read? Whichever one you'll actually read!

[Photo of the Book of Kells ca. 800, by Basta Cosi on Flickr.]

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