Thursday, March 9, 2017

Why Are There So Many Different Versions Of The Bible?

  • Defining The Issues: 
          -Several translations of the Bible have been produced and thus distributed throughout the church. Christians tend to prefer specific versions such as the King James Version, New International Version or the New American Standard Bible over others. Church groups even recommend certain Bible translations which are used in the preaching pulpits of their congregations. In fact, many people mistakenly make the extrapolation that the existence of multiple Bible versions is the primary cause of division throughout the church and somehow proves that the manuscripts used for finding English equivalents for the words of the Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic languages are hopelessly tainted by human bias. To make a long story short, people are worried or confused about the fact that there are several translations of the Bible which contain deviations in spelling, grammar, sentence structure, and even differences in chapter verses. On the other hand, having many different translations of the Bible can prove to be beneficial in study. It is not a bad thing in of itself.
  • Bible Translation Or Version? 
          -First of all, it should be noted that the word "version" is not always the best way to describe a translation of a religious text. It misrepresents the nature of the painstaking research conducted by scholars who worked diligently to give us the most accurate as possible presentation of what the original authors of the biblical narratives wanted to relay to future generations. The science of "translation" works to find equivalents in one language so that different languages are able to maintain communication. The word "version" can give the misleading implication of intentional alteration or perversion with malicious motives. Translating works to make deciphering a message in a foreign language possible, whereas creating a version means carving out wanted portions of any given context to fit one's faulty bias. Translating ancient manuscripts from different languages is no different than translating the words of a speaker from another country such as a foreign diplomat giving a news conference. So describing the Bible as merely being a "version" can be misleading.
  • Why There Are Many Different Bible Translations:
          -Quite simply, different translations of the Bible exist because different groups of scholars knowledgeable in languages of Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic have collaborated at different periods of time to develop them. Words have a semantic range or a variety of meanings in a group of words that are appropriate to use depending on the context of a given passage. For example, the word "angry" has other words with similar connotations like mad, upset, irate, vehement, furious, and enraged. Those terms differ in degrees of forcefulness and may thus not fully convey what a person intends to say. Some places in Hebrew and Greek are even ambiguous. There have also been discoveries of manuscripts which provide further data to use in updating translations. Although the phraseology of different Bible translations may have noticeably different wording in certain places, phrases, or even different sentence structures, the meaning of the text in the vast majority of instances is the same. There is therefore still one Bible.
          -The science of translation involves explanation or interpretation, since it is a process of making something known to you that could not otherwise have been known to you. Shades of the Hebrew and Greek are inevitably lost to a degree in translation, which is a good reason to have access to more than one Bible translation (even though one cannot have perfect knowledge about such unless he or she knows the original languages). In addition, words have changed in their meaning since four hundred years ago when Elizabethan English was spoken. A notorious example of this would be the word "gay" which is used in the King James Version of the Bible and how that same word is used today. The meaning of a word is determined by its usage in context. The three types of translations available are word for word, thought for thought, and paraphrase (not that all translations of the Bible are good or equally good). How could Christians be required to agree on only one edition of the Bible when it also needs to be translated into different languages?
  • So Which Bible Translation Is The Best One To Read From?:
          -No infallible, God-breathed version of the Holy Scriptures are available to us today. All Bible translations existing today contain their own set of weaknesses and imperfections because they were all translated by fallible men who did not have an inerrant set of manuscripts given to them. But each version of the Bible has its own unique set of strengths. In fact, many translations that we can purchase are very reliable in general. They convey accurately to a considerable degree what the authors of the biblical text said. The answer to the question of which Bible translation is the best would be the one that an individual chooses to read. Having different translations of the Bible can help serious students gain a deeper insight behind the meaning of the text and can make the Bible a much more available book to the world.

1 comment:

  1. I would say that dynamic translations become more interpretive than translative, and the more dynamic they are the more they become more commentary. Paraphrases, such as The Message, are worthless. The best versions would be formal translations such as NAS, KJV, NKJV, ESV, Darby, Jay Green. There is my favorite version, HCSB, which is only slightly dynamic but much more formal than the NIV84. The NET is another fairly good one, but when you get to the NLT and God's Word versions, you're getting more dynamic.