Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Lost in Translation

If there is one subject that can cause a ruckus among Christians it's what translation of the bible you read and quote from. Yes there are many to choose from. How many times have we witnessed to an unbeliever then confused them with multiple quotes from different translations from other Christians?

Is there one translation that is the true Word of God? That debate has gone on for decades. I will use my own experiences and let you decide.

My first bible I received was a small Gideon pocket bible in college. It was years later until I even tried to read the book. It was the King James version. With all those "thee" and "thou's" in it. Who talks like that? To say the least I could not understand it. Yet today at seminary we study from the KJV. Why? There is more commentary on the KJV than any other translation. So does that make the KJV the one true translation? I disagree. Yet the KJV has been the foundation for Christianity for 400 years.

Personally I read and quote from the New Living Translation. It is easier for me to understand and read aloud to others. For in-depth bible study I use the KJV, NKJV, ESV, NIV, NAS, HCSB and a number of different commentaries.

Some of the best advice I have received before quoting from a particular translation is to say first, "My bible says" then continue to read God's Word. This way others will know that you are quoting from an authority rather than from yourself. If they hear their favorite verse quoted differently then you have an opportunity to share your translation. Do not get into a debate with another Christian on which translation is right. Both of you need to share your bibles and focus on what is God telling us.

I agree that some verses in the NLT do not have the impact like the KJV has. Yet many times the NLT is more clear for me and easier to understand than the KJV especially when reading the book of Proverbs, in my humble opinion.

Be thankful that we have multiple translations of the bible. Take time to study the translator's notes on how and why your translation of your bible came to be.

For me if the KJV were the only version of the bible I would never have had the understanding of God's Word as I have today.

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