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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Why Are There So Many Different Versions Of The Bible?


  • Defining The Issues:
         -Over fifty translations of the Bible have been produced and thus distributed throughout Christendom. Christians tend to prefer specific versions such as the 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 severely tainted by human bias. To make a long story short, people are worried or confused about the fact that there are over fifty translations of the Bible which contain deviations in spelling, grammar, sentence structure, and even some differences in chapter verses. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to address the issues at hand. While the overall picture of this scenario may seem very problematic for the folks who believe in the divine inspiration of the Scriptures, having many different Bible translations can have many positive effects and is not necessarily a bad thing.

  • Bible "Translation" Or "Version"?:
          -First of all, it should be noted that the word "version" is not a good way to describe what is in reality a "translation" of any sacred religious text. It totally misrepresents the nature of the painstaking study and continuous 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 message of eternal salvation to a world perishing in sin. The science of "translation" works to find equivalents in one language so that different languages are able to maintain communication. The word "version" gives misleading implications of intentional alteration or perversion of a text or story for the selfish serving of soothing the desires of a specific mindset. Translating works to make deciphering a foreign message 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" is inaccurate.
  • Why There Are Many Different Bible Translations:
           -Quite simply, different translations of the Bible exist because different groups of scholars have collaborated at different periods of time in history to develop them. Groups of educated Christians have assembled to produce reliable translations for the sake of clearing up any outdated language or possible misspellings of words, clarifying ambiguous passages of Scripture, and removing words or phrases that may not have existed in the original, divinely inspired manuscripts. Although the phraseology of different Bible translations may have a drastically different vocabulary, phrases, or even different sentence structures, the meaning of the text is ultimately the same. The meaning of verses that are phrased differently which are found in other Bibles are still identical in meaning. There is therefore still one Bible.  Consider the words of our Lord Jesus Christ in Mark 16:16, for example:
  + NASB: "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved..."
  +NIV: "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved..."
  +KJV: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved..."
          -While it is true that certain Bible versions such as the Jehovah's Witnesses' "New World Translation" have been deemed unreliable because of the intentional doctrinal corruption found within the text, a good translation of the Scriptures does not constitute differences in doctrine.
         -How could Christians be mandated to agree on only one translation of the Bible when it also needs to be translated into different languages and people have differing levels of reading comprehension?
         

  • How Can We Know That The Bible As We Posses It Is Trustworthy?:
              -We can have certainty that the Bibles that we hold in our hands are reliable because we have over 14,000 copies of the New Testament canon alone. They do contain minor deviations, but none of them inflict any harm to a single article of the faith. With this much manuscript support, scholars (or anybody else interested) are able to correct a great deal of these scribal errors or textual differences simply by means of comparison. We even have discovered biblical manuscripts that have been dated as early as 130 AD! Comparing modern reputable Bible versions to each other reveals that some differences do exist in the manuscripts in which they were developed from, yet none of come close to posing the spiritual danger of leading people into believing in heretical doctrine.
  • So Which Bible Translation Is The Best One To Read From?:
            -In the end, we are forced to admit that no infallible, God-breathed version of the Holy Scriptures are available to our hands. All Bible translations existing today contain their set of weaknesses and imperfections because they were all translated by fallible men who did not have a stainless duplicate of manuscripts given to them. But each individual translation of the Bible does have its own unique set of strengths. In fact, most of the translations that we can purchase have great manuscript reliability in general. It is extremely difficult to provide a concrete, definitive answer to the question of what Bible translation is of the greatest quality due to each individual's personal preferences and way of grasping concepts. So the answer to the question of which Bible translation is the best is the Bible translation that you choose to read. Having different translations of the Bible can help serious students gain a much deeper insight behind the meaning of Scripture and can make the Bible a much more available book to the world.