Thursday, February 09, 2006

Bible Study: Bible Versions

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” II TIMOTHY 2:15

This past Sunday, my pastor preached a very good sermon on studying the bible. For the past few weeks I have been doing just that. Not studying my bible only, but every version in my house (including the…KJV, NKJV, NIV, NRSV, and the NCV).

This is an ongoing assessment. I believe that God’s Bible translated into the English language (as with any language) would be without error or contradictions, and have the best language usage for study. At this point I’ve been studying the King James Version for about a month. The NKJV is the version my family is using, and has used for many years.

7 comments:

Robert W Moore said...

Hi Zachary,

I just post a comment (at least I thought I did), and I don't think it posted.

Your blog looks great -- I'll look forward to following your posts.

You mentioned that you believe God's "English Bible" would be without error or contradiction. Quite honestly, GOD'S WORD is inerrant, and we should trust him for the finst translation in any language.

The Word of God is for every tribe and tongue, yet there are people groups (although remote) without a Bible in their vernacular language.

Were you suggesting that the English Bible is in a class unique from other languages?

Robert

Elizabeth Ellen Moore said...

Zachary,

2 Timothy 2:15, KJV, Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15, ESV, Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

In this version I actually prefer the KJV. It might just be habit, but I think “study” is a stronger expression than “Do your best.”

Other verses are clearer in the English Standard Version, although both are equally correct.

Matthew 26:53, KJV, Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?

Matthew 26:53, ESV, Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?

Often though, the versions are indistinguishable or almost identical.

Thank you for posting!

Elizabeth

Wholesome Works said...

Mr. Moore,

Thank you for the comment. In answer to your question, no.
Sorry, I was unclear in my statement.

I have read a few articles on the “debate” between the KJV and other translations. One article I read said, to the effect of, “most scholars” say that no version of the bible is totally wrong or totally right. I disagree.

Also, when I said “English Bible” I meant the bible intended for English speaking peoples; written in the English language.

Finally, when I stated that the bible would be “in the best language for study”, I meant it would use the clearest (though maybe not the easiest to read) articulation of God’s intended meaning.

I will revise my post promptly. Please don’t hesitate to ask more questions, I’m very open to discussion.

Zachary

Wholesome Works said...

Elizabeth,

Thank you for the comment.

2 Timothy 2:15 is the only time the bible tells us to “study”, and all of the other versions, that I have looked at, omit that word.

Some versions may be clearer (or easier to read) than others. I am not trying to say all bible versions other than the KJV are wrong, but I do think, at this point in my study, that the KJV is the most accurate.

I don’t own an ESV bible, however, I have recently found an online resource at biblegateway.com that allows a person to look up verses (more than one at a time) in dozens of different versions (comparing up to 5 versions simultaneously). I looked up a few verses on biblegateway.com, and many were missing from the main text of the ESV (the verses I looked up: Matt. 18:11, Mark 11:26, 15:28, and John 5:4). Compare also: Luke 11:2.

Zachary

Robert W Moore said...

Zach,

Crossway editions (the publisher of ESV) include explanations of the 'missing' verses, whereas the online resource does not.

There should be an honest discussion regarding why some words and phrases differ in various extant biblical manuscripts. Just to grab one of your examples, Matthew 18:11 appears in Luke 19:10. Scholars need to hammer out why it appears in some Matthew manuscripts/fragments -- but not most.

I would encourage anyone who is using ESV to check the column notes for explanations. The translators, under the able leadership of J.I. Packer, have taken great pains to ensure that God's Holy Written Word has not suffered violence because of their work.

By the way, I appreciate your commitment to the authority of God's Word. We certainly want to rest assured that what we are submitting to is, indeed, His words and not ours.

Robert W Moore said...

Elizabeth / Zach,

RE: II Tim 2:15 ...As you know, there is a Greek word that has yielded "study" as the KJV English translation. Have you researched the meaning of that particular word?

I'm not sure preference is a good way to select our favorite verse translations. To be honest, there is a sentimental side of me that misses well known KJV phrases. ...But I need to check my conscience to determine why I feel that way. I may have a sort of "friendship" with some of my favorite Bible verses! Their familiarity alone may contribute somewhat to my affinity.

In the case of "study," you may discover that the meaning of a word in 1611 is no longer the meaning in 2006.

There are other examples. The KJV word "prevent" means "to go before or precede." Today, the same word means to "hinder, stop, or keep from happening." The old meaning is archaic.

Many wonderful pastors who held to the KJV until recently were spending much time during their sermons explaining outdated language. The fact is that languages change over time. The English language is no exception. Thankfully, we have a translation that is exactly that -- a word-for-word rendering without losing the beauty of expression that was a hallmark of the KJV.

Robert W Moore said...

Zach,

I think I'm responding in reverse here. :-)

Thank you for clarifying your comments. I've been concerned about the dumbing down of our culture. The work of Bible translation should not be about providing the reader with "simple words." God's truth is what it is. The fact remains, however, that most of us cannot read Hebrew of Greek. We need some help! ...From translators.

A perfect translation? In every language? I'll look forward to your comments.

Again, this is a GREAT topic, and I appreciate your love for the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word.